New Tax Day Report on Obama's Tax Proposals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 9, 2009

Obama's Tax Proposals Could Raise More Revenue, Be More Progressive and Clamp Down Harder on Wall Street Speculation, New Tax Day Report Finds

Boston–A new report from United for a Fair Economy (UFE) concludes that President Obama's tax proposals could be sharply improved to raise $300 billion more per year in revenue. The report also finds that improvements would make the taxes more progressive and reduce incentives for extreme financial risk-taking.

Designed to be accessible to average taxpayers, "Safe, Fair and Sustainable: Do President Obama's Tax Proposals Measure Up?" studies a selection of tax proposals contained in Obama's budget and rates them on key criteria.

"As Congress decides the specifics of tax plans that will impact whether and how we fund bold new initiatives for the country, taxpayers need to advocate for what they want," said Lee Farris, Federal Tax Policy Coordinator at UFE and co-author of the report. "The economic hardship facing ordinary Americans right now makes evaluating the impact of important tax policy choices all the more vital."

The report analyzes the proposals in President Obama's FY2010 budget that focus on high-income taxpayers and compares them to a set of tax proposals from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in its report, "Reversing the Great Tax Shift: Seven Steps to Finance Our Economic Recovery Fairly."   UFE's report finds that with increased taxes on the wealthy, Obama's plan would be able to raise about $300 billion more per year.   It also finds that Obama's proposals could be more progressive, making taxpayers who have more wealth and income pay a higher rate.   Finally, UFE finds that Obama's proposal could do much more to reduce the tax incentives that led to the recent crisis on Wall Street.

The UFE report is available from UFE's website at http://files.faireconomy.org/reports/tax_day_2009.
The IPS report is available at http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/#1207.

United for a Fair Economy is a non-partisan organization that helps people of all races, ethnicities and classes work to reduce economic inequality.

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New Report - State of the Dream 2009: The Silent Depression

For Immediate Release | January 15, 2009

New Report Finds Silent Economic Depression

For People of Color


Boston–A new report released today concludes that the current economic recession is being experienced as a depression by people of color. Entitled State of the Dream 2009: The Silent Depression, the report is the sixth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day report from United for a Fair Economy (UFE). It is available for download from http://http://www.faireconomy.org/dream.

"While media and public attention has focused on the recession that started a year ago for the total population, particular communities of color have been experiencing a recession for five years," said Amaad Rivera, Racial Wealth Divide Initiative Leader for UFE and one of the report's co-authors. "By definition, a long-term recession is a depression."

The report - based on extensive research of current and historical data, academic papers, speeches, policy papers and government statistics - includes a critique of mainstream economic analysis and posits a new framework for evaluating economic well-being.   The report is the first of its kind to do a thorough analysis of the historical reasons for the disparity in economic realities between whites and people of color, and to suggest steps toward remedying the problem.

"The current economic crisis requires more than a color-blind stimulus. It demands a complete economic restructuring that addresses the racial wealth divide," said Dedrick Muhammad, Senior Organizer and Research Associate at the Institute for Policy Studies, a co-author of the report.

The report explains the mechanisms that helped create the silent economic depression for people of color, explores how the depression affects individuals and communities of color, and proposes policy solutions to close the racial economic divide.

United for a Fair Economy is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that spotlights the growing economic divide and works across races, ethnicities and classes to help close the divide.

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Report: Lending Disparities, Costly Loans to Baton Rouge Minorities

For Immediate Release-June 21, 2007
Contact: Emma Dixon, LCRC, 985-674-1551
(Cell phone 985-869-3584)
Christina Kasica, UFE, 617-423-2148, ext. 119
Kevin Cowl, NCRC, 202-464-2725

A joint Press Release from the Louisiana Community Reinvestment Coalition, the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, the Baton Rouge Branch of the NAACP, and the Urban Restoration Enhancement Corporation

New Report Highlights Lending Disparities and High-Cost Loans to Minorities in Baton Rouge Metropolitan Area

Data Shows Trend of Sub-Prime Loans to African-Americans

Download the PDF (1.5 Mb)

Baton Rouge, La.- A new report finds that African-Americans in Baton Rouge were more than twice as likely to receive sub-prime home loans as non-minorities in 2005. The report is the second in a series of reports on Louisiana lending practices commissioned by the Louisiana Community Reinvestment Coalition (LCRC) and compiled by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) Research and Policy division.

In the United States as a whole, African-Americans received 46.55% of sub-prime loans, while in Baton Rouge that number is 53.66%. Small business loans went to only 19.52% of the 26.36% of small businesses located in Baton Rouge's minority census tracts in 2005.

20 percent of whites received sub-prime loans in Baton Rouge in the same period.

"As we examine this trend of lenders providing sub-prime, high-cost loans we must recognize that this is a negative factor in an effort to build prosperity in communities," said Emma Dixon, LCRC Project Director. "We need to advocate for new legislation and policy to prevent these practices. One example is the new Borrower Protection Act of 2007 sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York."

"We are pleased that LDRF is engaged in supporting the work of LCRC and its efforts to ensure economic justice," said Ashley Shelton of LDRF. "We want local lenders to do more to provide affordable, equitable lending products and to minimize the large number of high-cost, sub-prime mortgages and small business loans to people of color and in minority neighborhoods."

Ronnie Edwards of Urban Restoration said, "The work of non-profit counseling agencies may not be emphasized enough. The role of pre-purchase counseling is paramount in ensuring there is full knowledge of the buying process."

"As we all work together to increase the quality of life in our city," said Lamont Cole of the Baton Rouge NAACP, "we need full support from the banking community. The report indicates that we have a way to go to achieve that."

A third report is being commissioned by the LCRC for other large metropolitan areas in Louisiana, and is expected to show that communities across the state need greater levels of investment by the financial industry. The LCRC and its partners hope these reports will encourage more lenders to commit to creating prosperity across Louisiana.

Mses. Dixon, Edwards and Shelton and Mr. Cole are available for interviews or background.

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The LCRC is a joint project of Boston-based United for a Fair Economy (UFE) and the Washington, DC-based National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC). UFE is a national non-partisan non-profit organization that spotlights the growing economic divide in the U.S. The NCRC is the nation's foremost trade association for economic justice, with over 600 members.

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Ten Super-Wealthy Anti-Estate Tax Families Listed on Forbes 400

FOR IMMEDATE RELEASE
September 27, 2006

Ten Super-Wealthy Anti-Estate Tax Families Listed on Forbes 400

Forbes magazine's 2006 list of the 400 wealthiest people in America includes individuals from ten of the 18 wealthy families exposed as stealthily funding efforts to repeal the estate tax, the nation's only tax on multi-million dollar inheritances.

The April 2006 report, "Spending Millions to Save Billions; The Campaign of the Super Wealthy to Kill the Estate Tax," by Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy (UFE) showed that, if successful, the effort would save these super wealthy families about $71.6 billion dollars, and cost the federal government $1 trillion over ten years.

The ten anti-estate-tax billionaire families on the Forbes 400 list include the Cox family, the DeVos family, the Dorrance family, the Gallo family, the Harbert family, the Johnson family, the Koch family, the Mars family, the Sobrato family, and the most wealthy of all, the Walton family. Of the 24 individuals on the Forbes 400 list from the ten families, 13 rank among the 100 wealthiest people in the country. The net worth of most of the families has grown since the 2005 Forbes list, increasing the amount the families would save by repealing the estate tax.

"Everybody should be able to pass some savings or a modest home to their children when they die," says Chuck Collins, co-founder of UFE, and director of Fair Economy Action Fund, its lobbying arm. "For the first time, only billionaires made the Forbes 400 list. If children inherit billions of dollars completely tax-free as these families continue to lobby for, soon only trillionaires will make the list."

Of the 24 individuals from anti-estate-tax families on the Forbes 400 list, 20 owe their good fortune to their forbearers, since only four represent the first generation of family wealth. A list of the 24 wealthy individuals, their wealth, their location and their rank in the Forbes may be downloaded here.

Repealing or reducing the estate tax has been a hot topic in Congress this summer, with several US House and Senate votes that have not passed both chambers. The estate tax is also an issue in a number of Congressional and Senate campaigns this fall. Estate tax repeal or reduction is expected to come up for a vote in the lame duck session when Congress returns after the November elections.

United for a Fair Economy is a national non-partisan, non-profit organization that raises awareness of the dangers of growing economic inequality.

DOWNLOAD PDF of the UFE/Public Citizen Report:

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Estate Tax Plan Threatens Taxpayers with $850 Billion Price Tag

Americans for a Fair Estate Tax

For Immediate Release - May 29, 2002
Contact: Gary Bass – OMB Watch - (202) 234-8494
Betsy Leondar-Wright – United for a Fair Economy - (617) 423-2148, ext. 13
Rick Cohen – National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
- (202) 387-9177 (w) / (202) 329-4438(c)

Gramm-Kyl Estate Tax Plan Threatens Taxpayers with $850 Billion Price Tag

Proposal Leaves Most Americans To Pick up the Tab for a Few Multi-millionaires, Coalition Warns

WASHINGTON – American taxpayers may be stuck paying $850 billion in taxes normally paid by the super-wealthy if a measure currently before the U.S. Senate becomes law, according to a warning issued by Americans for a Fair Estate Tax (AFET), a non-partisan coalition of nonprofit organizations concerned about repeal of the estate tax. The threat comes from a tax plan by Sens. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., to permanently mandate that multi-million-dollar estates would never have to pay any taxes. The Senate is expected to vote on the issue in June.

“The Senate should reject the Gramm-Kyl tax plan to permanently repeal the estate tax,”� said Gary D. Bass of OMB Watch and chair of AFET. “We cannot afford to sacrifice Medicare, Social Security, education, homeland security and other key national priorities just to permanently mandate a special gift to a few multi-million-dollar estates at the expense of 98 percent of American taxpayers.”�

AFET last week issued a letter to several thousand of its member organizations’ constituents, advising them of the danger of the Gramm-Kyl estate tax plan.

“Instead of this large handout to a small handful of multi-millionaires at the expense of most Americans, we favor common-sense estate tax reform that would protect family farms, small businesses and average taxpayers – without a costly repeal that would leave most Americans holding the bag,”� said Chuck Collins, co-founder of AFET member organization Responsible Wealth, the group of small business owners and affluent individuals who organized last year’s pro-reform statement, signed by Bill Gates Sr., Warren Buffett and 1,100 other people personally affected by the estate tax. “Repeal of the estate tax is simply unfair and not the best way to advance America’s priorities.”�

Permanent repeal of the estate tax means less revenue for the country – $100 billion in the next 10 years and $750 billion in the following decade. It would force the government to either raise taxes on middle-income taxpayers or cut vital services, such as Social Security or prescription drugs for the elderly, just to pay for a special windfall for the wealthiest few.

The estate tax is applied when individuals leave behind estates worth at least $1 million ($2 million for couples) at the time of their death. There is no tax on the first $1 million per individual, and amounts in excess of $1 million are taxed at various rates, starting at 37 percent. As a result of last summer’s tax legislation, the amount that is exempted from taxation rises to $3.5 million ($7 million for couples) and the highest taxable rate drops from 55 percent to 45 percent by 2009. In 2010 the estate tax is repealed, but is again instituted in 2011. The Gramm-Kyl plan would permanently repeal the estate tax.

Repeal of the tax also would have a major harmful impact on America’s foundations and charities. Estates are allowed to transfer unlimited amounts of money to charitable groups, thereby helping to reduce the size of the estate that is taxed. In 1999, this tax incentive for charitable giving resulted in $14.8 billion in contributions to foundations, universities, museums, churches and many other charities.

“Even beyond the heavy burden it would place on most taxpayers, the Gramm-Kyl tax plan would drain billions of dollars from foundations and hard-hit charities that are already struggling to serve the most vulnerable Americans,”� said Rick Cohen of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and AFET. “The Gramm-Kyl tax plan is as unfair as it is unwise. It would hurt America’s charities even as the president and Congress are looking to promote charity.”�

The estate tax was already scaled back last summer as part of President Bush’s sweeping tax package. The Gramm-Kyl tax proposal would be far more costly for most American taxpayers as it would permanently repeal the tax rather than simply reforming it. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has agreed to a vote in the Senate on the Gramm-Kyl proposal by June 28. The House will vote on permanent repeal of the estate tax for a second time on either June 5 or 6 to send a message to the Senate.

As part of AFET’s effort to reform rather than repeal the estate tax, Responsible Wealth sponsored an ad in the May 20 edition of Roll Call and the May 22 edition of The New York Times. Entitled “Much Ado About a Very Few,”� the ad highlights just how few estates would benefit from the costly Gramm-Kyl tax plan – 24 in Maine, for example. Overall, 5,854 multi-millionaires would get a break while the remaining taxpayers would have to pick up the tab if the measure passes. The ad is available at www.responsiblewealth.org.

The AFET letter was signed by representatives of a wide range of public interest organizations, including AFSCME, American Arts Alliance, American Association of University Women, Americans for Democratic Action, Campaign for America’s Future, Children’s Defense Fund, Coalition on Human Needs, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs, Independent Sector, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, National Council of Nonprofit Associations, National Women’s Law Center, NETWORK (National Catholic Social Justice Lobby), OMB Watch, Responsible Wealth, United for a Fair Economy, and United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries.

Americans for a Fair Estate Tax (AFET) is a broad-based non-partisan coalition of nonprofit groups, including civic, labor, social justice, faith-based, and environmental organizations, as well as organizations providing human services. AFET advocates that instead of repealing the tax on multi-million-dollar estates, Congress should reform the estate tax to ensure that family farms and small businesses are not unfairly taxed while keeping 98 percent of taxpayers exempt and safeguarding Medicare, Social Security, education, charities and other key national priorities that would be threatened by a complete repeal. More information on this issue can be found online at www.fairestatetax.org.

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