CLASP Principles for Federal Tax Policy

The tax system has been an important tool in our national response to the interlocking health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Policymakers used it to distribute stimulus payments in the spring of 2020. This effort highlighted the potential to rapidly deliver funds to many people. However, some people with the greatest needs were left out. For example, lawmakers explicitly denied benefits to people in families where one or more adults do not have a Social Security number. Structural barriers to having a bank account, mailing address, or internet access caused other people to struggle to access payments they were due. 

Taxes will necessarily be part of the political debate over the next years. Much larger investments are needed to support state and local economies, create opportunity, and begin to close the gaps caused by our nation’s history of systemic racism. Policymakers will have the opportunity to undo the inequity of the 2017 tax bill, reversing its giveaways to the richest households and large corporations. Proposals ranging from providing people with another short-term stimulus payment to permanent universal child allowances and basic income will use refundable credits as part of their delivery systems. This raises the question of what it will take so everyone eligible for these supports can receive them with a minimum of burden. Overall, society faces a broader opportunity to look at tax policy from an economic and racial justice agenda. 

In this report, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) outlines a set of principles to provide a framework for policymakers and advocates that uses an economic and racial justice perspective to assess the range of proposals that they will evaluate in the next few years.

Read: Executive Summary