The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates


Regulating the “Wild West” of Tax Return Preparation

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Fri, 04/26/2019 - 10:16am

Taxpayers’ widespread confusion and frustration this past filing season, the first under the 2017 tax law, highlights the important role of tax preparation professionals in helping millions file their returns. Some tax preparers (e.g., certified public accountants) have professional credentials to show they’ve passed tests to certify their competence to the IRS.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Montana Set to Continue Medicaid Expansion, But With Changes Ending Coverage for Thousands

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 4:15pm

Montana’s state legislature has adopted legislation that would extend the state’s Medicaid expansion until 2025 but also impose new work-related restrictions and higher premiums on expansion enrollees — policies that will likely take Medicaid coverage away from thousands of Montanans, including some who are working or should qualify for exemptions. Montana enacted the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act in 2015, providing access to coverage for nearly 100,000 Montanans. However, legislators included a termination date that sunsets the current program on June 30, 2019.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Severe Teacher Shortage Shows States Should Better Fund Schools

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Wed, 04/24/2019 - 10:42am

The country’s severe shortage of qualified public elementary and secondary school teachers, which a new Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report details, demonstrates states’ need to raise adequate revenue not only to boost teacher pay but also to provide the resources that high-quality schools require.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Financial Challenges Facing Social Security and Medicare Largely Unchanged From Last Year, Except for Improvement in Disability Insurance

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 4:47pm

The financial outlook for Social Security as a whole is much the same as last year, while the program’s trustees have dramatically revised their estimate for the DI trust fund, projecting an additional 20 years of solvency.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Puerto Rico’s Medicaid Program Needs an Ongoing Commitment of Federal Funds

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Mon, 04/22/2019 - 10:10am

Temporary federal funding that supplements Puerto Rico’s inadequate federal Medicaid block grant will expire soon, putting health care coverage at risk for hundreds of thousands of Commonwealth residents. 

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

In Case You Missed It…

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 3:11pm

This week at CBPP, we focused on health, housing, state budgets and taxes, and the economy.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Penalizing Employers Whose Workers Participate in Economic Security Programs May Have Serious Unintended Consequences

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 9:56am

Some states are considering levying penalties on employers whose workers participate in Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), or other economic security programs. For example, one state lawmaker has proposed that for-profit firms with 300 or more employees pay a fine of 10 percent of the total wages of their non-disabled employees who receive Medicaid, capped at $1,500 per worker.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

New Mexico Investing in Children, Advancing Equity

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 10:33am

New Mexico policymakers are strengthening communities and families with their new budget and tax plans. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed tax reforms into law last week that reduce tax breaks for multistate corporations and the wealthiest New Mexicans, boost incomes for 200,000 low-income households, and reduce the state’s overreliance on volatile oil revenues. Policymakers paired the tax package with a budget that, buoyed by a nearly $1 billion revenue surplus, substantial reinvests in children and infrastructure and advances racial, ethnic, and gender equity.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Senate Bill Wouldn’t Protect People from Texas v. Azar Fallout

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 3:43pm

In case the Supreme Court declares the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional in Texas v. Azar, 18 Senate Republicans are backing “The Protect Act,” which they say would “ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions will have access to health care that covers their pre-existing conditions.” But the bill, from Senator Thom Tillis, falls far short of its purported goal.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

With Federal Funds Insufficient, States and Localities Funding Their Own Rental Assistance Programs

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 2:52pm

Although the President and Congress have funded modest increases in rental assistance for special populations in recent years — such as vouchers for veterans experiencing homelessness and adults with disabilities — federal funding for rental assistance continues to fall far short of need.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Public Health Insurance Option Could Cut Costs, Boost Financial Assistance

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 10:35am

A new bill from Senators Michael Bennet and Tim Kaine would leverage Medicare’s provider network and payment rates to create a lower-cost public health insurance plan (i.e., a “public option”) in the individual and small-group markets, and use the resulting federal savings to expand premium tax credits to help people afford coverage in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

In Case You Missed It...

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 4:15pm

This week at CBPP, we focused on policies taking public benefits away for not meeting work requirements, health, federal taxes, state budgets and taxes, the federal budget, and the economy.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Tax Day 2019 Charts: Working Families Should Be Priority of Restructured 2017 Tax Law

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 3:43pm

As people rush to file their income tax returns by Tax Day (April 15), a few reminders: First, as the Brookings Institution’s Vanessa Williamson explained: “Residents of the United States are unusually likely [compared to other countries] to see chipping in their share as a civic duty, a moral obligation, and a patriotic act.” Second, people need to understand where their tax dollars are going, how the 2017 tax law prioritized the wealthy, and how a new bill better prioritizes working fami

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Thank You to Free Tax Volunteers

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 3:22pm

Despite tax law changes and new tax forms — which require intensive new training — volunteers at free tax preparation sites continued helping millions of Americans file their taxes this year.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

How House Budget Committee Bill Raising Funding Caps Would Affect Defense

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 10:34am

Some seemingly contradictory information is circulating about how the House Budget Committee (HBC)-approved bill to avert the deep sequestration budget cuts scheduled for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 would affect defense funding. That’s largely because there are different ways to measure the bill’s changes in overall funding for both defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs.

The bill would set new, higher funding caps for 2020 and 2021 for both defense and NDD programs, replacing the caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) and lowered by sequestration.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Kansas Bill Would Harm People With Pre-Existing Conditions

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 3:57pm

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly should veto a bill that would let the state’s Farm Bureau sell unregulated health plans to Kansans. That’s because the plans would likely deny coverage and charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing health conditions, omit essential benefits such as maternity care, and impose annual or lifetime dollar limits on coverage.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Tax Foundation Figures Do Not Represent Typical Households’ Tax Burdens

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 3:02pm

The figures may mislead policymakers, journalists, and the public.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Working Families Tax Relief Act Would Help 46 Million Households, Cut Poverty and Deep Poverty

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 12:55pm

The bill would substantially expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, improving the economic well-being of 46 million households.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Virginia Misses Chance to Advance Racial Equity

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 12:13pm

Virginia ended its 2019 legislative session after enacting a new tax law that failed to expand the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-wage workers. An EITC expansion would have reduced racial inequities in income since the state’s low-wage workers are disproportionately African American, in part due to historical racism and ongoing job discrimination. At the same time, the new tax law included provisions that disproportionately benefit wealthy white families.

Categories: Benefits, Poverty


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