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My Question To The Walton Family: How Much Is Enough?

Walmart Black Friday

 

How much money is enough? Do you stop being a greedy capitalist when you no longer care what anything costs? Do you stop when you become one of the named people on the “Richest People In America” lists?  Do you stop when your company make $8.5 million dollars a day in dividends alone? Some people would say, “Never! I will never stop until I own everything!”

This is exactly the case of the Walton Family.  Sam Walton built an empire in Walmart by keeping costs down and providing people with everything they needed in one store.  Somewhere along the way, Sam’s Walmart became WALMART (dun-dun-dah), the monstrous corporation with over one million employees that drives the entire retail industry.  They force other retail shops to compete with their unscrupulous tactics like forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving, paying workers the absolute minimum, and making the majority of employees part-time to avoid having to offer any type of health benefits (forget about retirement – good luck funding that 401k on $7.25 an hour).

The Walton’s still own Walmart and they could be doing so much more for their workers, their communities and their country.  They could pay every worker $15 an hour without having raise any prices or lose out on any profits.  Yet they refuse to pay workers a living wage. In fact the Walmart corporation is one of the biggest opponents to raising the minimum wage.

Lets not forget that we as American taxpayers are subsidizing these low wages with our tax dollars.  Research from the Economic Policy Institute shows that the government spends more than $13 billion dollars a year subsidizing the retail industry’s low wages.  With a poverty rate of low-wage workers pushing over 10%, it is no wonder Walmart does food drives for their own employees.

So again I will ask how much money is enough? 

_________________________

The UFCW and Robert Reich teamed up to make this great video (http://youtu.be/_-SMetMkcVI) explaining how Walmart could give millions of Americans a raise right now, if they chose to.

Please watch this video and support a Black Friday Protest near you, visit BlackFridayProtest.org

Working-Class Voters Put the Economy First

Richard Trumka (The Nation / AP-Photo)

Union members support populist economic agendas despite anti-worker attacks

WASHINGTON, DC – Despite some disappointing political results for millions of union members and all working families, the vast majority of Americans made clear that they want an economy that works for everyone. Months of unprecedented spending by corporate billionaires on television ads failed to turn voters against the idea of an economy that is built on a foundation of raising wages. This fact transcended simple Democratic and Republican political labels.

“The defining narrative of this election was confirmation, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Americans are desperate for a new economic life,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “But the fact of the matter is that people are disillusioned by endless political bickering and eyed these elections with great dispirit. In way too many elections, they got a false choice.  In these very difficult times, they did not a get a genuine economic alternative to their unhappiness and very real fear of the future. But when voters did have a chance to choose their future directly – through ballot measures – their decisions are unmistakable”

An election-night survey conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates found that while Republicans won many races on political grounds, voters heavily support working family issues. Voters favor increasing Social Security benefits by 61%-30%; raising the federal minimum wage by 62%-34%; taxing American corporations on profits they make overseas by 73%-21%; and increasing funding for public schools by 75%-21%. Additionally, voters opposed many traditional Republican issues such as raising the Social Security retirement age (27%-66%) and raising the Medicare eligibility age (18%-76).

Voters sounded the loudest economic message in Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota, where minimum wage increases were overwhelmingly approved. San Francisco and Oakland also will likely raise minimum wage, and all four ballot initiatives supporting paid sick days passed. Successes such as these pave the way forward for a host of new ideas, ranging from how worker schedules are formulated to living wage legislation, paid sick leave and equal pay.

Trumka said, “It’s clear that American workers and their families are way ahead of the political elite when it comes to envisioning the next American chapter. I was out there all fall.  I was in almost every contested state.  I spoke to hundreds and hundreds of workers.  Their desire for bold, comprehensive and lasting economic change is the most real thing I’ve ever heard.”

Where it counted, workers and their unions led intense, grassroots organizing on the ground. These efforts resulted in union members supporting working family governor candidates by 64%-32% and U.S. Senate candidates by 61%-35%.

Since its last convention, the AFL-CIO has been working to build a long-term, year-round mobilization structure that won’t stop with elections. Already the AFL-CIO and allies are gearing up to press the interests of working people in the coming lame duck session of Congress, from immigration reform to trade deals that work for working families, while leading a national conversation on raising wages.

The Middle Class Needs A Real Representative

Marilinda Garcia (Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Like many of you, I consider myself part of the middle class.

I work hard at my job. I have a house, with a huge mortgage that is upside down, and it requires constant care and attention. I am married with three amazing children who bring great joy to our lives but also strain our family finances.

My wife and I decided that it would be better for us if she stayed home to take care of our children, rather than pay for full-time daycare for three children. We know how lucky we are, to be able to make this work.  We know that most families are not so lucky.

Many families have both parents working, some couples have three or four jobs between them, yet they are still struggling every month to pay their bills.

Over the last four decades, workers have greatly increased our productivity – yet our wages have stagnated.  But CEO compensation has skyrocketed: CEOs now earn 350 times what their average employee makes.

Marilinda Garcia says she wants to go to Congress to fight for the middle class. She talks like she is part of the struggling middle class, herself.

Despite her campaign rhetoric, she is anything but a middle class American. She is in her early thirties, yet still lives at home with her parents.  Her main occupation is State Representative, which we all know pays a whopping $100 a year. She also has a side job giving harp lessons, and has done some consulting in the past.

According to Garcia’s campaign financial disclosure statement, she made a little more than $6,000 total last year.

She admits that she would qualify for reduced-cost health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchange.  Based on her financial disclosure, she would qualify for Medicaid, because her income is well below the poverty line.

But Garcia says she doesn’t buy her health insurance through the exchange – instead, her campaign is focused on getting rid of the Affordable Care Act.  Even though the Affordable Care Act has lowered healthcare costs for millions of middle class Americans, and tens of thousands of Granite Staters.

Garcia also wants to destroy the Department of Education, and essentially eliminate the federal student loan program – another program that the middle class depends on, so their children can go to college.  According to her financial disclosure, she herself owes between $15,000 and $50,000 in student loan debt to Sallie Mae – but she doesn’t want other families to have access to the program.  As a State Representative, Garcia voted to slash the budget, cutting $95 million from the New Hampshire University system, forcing tuition increases and massive layoffs.  That hurt thousands of middle class families.

Garcia opposes the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would shrink the wage gap between men and women.  Giving working women a little more in their paychecks would help middle class families – but Garcia is opposed to it.

Garcia even boasted on a local radio show that she voted against raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage.  Raising the minimum wage would help lift more than 100,000 Granite Staters out of poverty.  A recent Gallup showed that more than 75% of Americans support raising the wage.  Yet Garcia said it was nothing more than a “petty, short-sighted type of little issue.”  Voters who support raising the wage, workers who depend on the minimum wage – these are real people, the same people Garcia wants to represent.

She may be a candidate for Congress, but she’s not a member of the middle class.  Fight for middle class families?  I can’t see it.  Garcia doesn’t even bother to show any respect for us.

She is living at her parents’ house and earning about $6,000 a year.  How is she paying for her student loan and whatever health insurance she bought, wherever she bought it?  Maybe Garcia’s parents could be considered middle class – with two adult children living back at home – but Marilinda herself hardly qualifies.

Granite Staters need a Congresswoman who understands what real middle class Americans are going through – someone who will vote to help us, not hurt us.

Garcia has a proven track record of voting against the middle class.

The middle class needs a real representative, like Annie Kuster.

(Sharing and re-publishing of this post is welcomed and encouraged. Please link to this page and give full credit to Matt Murray of the NH Labor News.) 

AFL-CIO Announces Targeted Mail Campaign In Select States

AFLCIO Mail

AFLCIO MailMail to hit nearly 1 million households in AK, CO, CT, FL, IA, IL, KY, ME, MI and WI

(Washington, DC)—This week the AFL-CIO will launch its 2014 mail program, designed to persuade voters to support working family candidates. The mail is part of the AFL-CIO’s massive political mobilization program, which includes knocking on doors, distributing worksite fliers and phone banking. With more than 12 million members, the AFL-CIO’s boots on the ground make it one of the largest grassroots efforts in the country.

This week’s mail program includes 25 different pieces in 10 states: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan and Wisconsin. The mail specifies the economic stakes this fall for all working people. The program is built on the trust and solidarity within unions and is designed to encourage voting even among working people who are discouraged by the weak economy.

Subjects include the need for working people to vote to counteract corporate control of politics, hold accountable pro-Wall Street politicians, support public education and enable paid sick leave. This mail program will continue through Election Day, and conversations with union members about working family candidates will continue into 2015 and beyond.

To view individual mail pieces, click on this link or paste it into your browser: http://www.aflcio.org/Legislation-and-Politics/2014-Printed-Mail-Political-Ads

Will Senator Sanders Run? After This Speech, I Hope So!

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

There is a war out there and whether you know it or not, you are a part of it.  This is a war between a few ultra-wealthy families and the rest of us living here in America.

These ultra-wealthy 1%’ers have been buying elections and forcing policy changes that weaken our labor laws, weaken environmental protections, and most importantly take money from hard working Americans and put it into the pockets of Wall Street hedge fund managers.

What is a middle class worker supposed to do?

Every year we sit and watch, as our paychecks appear to shrink and our grocery bills get higher and higher.  Corporate run healthcare is costing us more and more, and yet our employers refuse to increase wages.  Effectively Corporate is slowly eating away at our take home pay.

We need someone who will fight back against Corporate America, the Koch brothers, and the Walton family greed.  We need someone who will fight to rebuild the middle class, and reach down to help those who are not there yet.

Who could that person be? Hillary Clinton? Maybe, well have to see. Elizabeth Warren? Love her, but we need her in the Senate right now.

Have no fear, Bernie Sanders is here!  

The truth is that nobody knows if Bernie Sanders is officially going to run for President or not, and trust me I tried to ask him at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast.  Even though I did not get a straight answer, after watching Senator Sanders speak there is no doubt in my mind he is running. And that makes me very happy!

As an avid political commentator, and devoted follower of politics, sadly I do not think Bernie will win the Democratic Party nomination.  That being said it is vitally important that Senator Sanders puts his name in the race, because he is going to ask the questions that absolutely nobody on the right will dare answer, and he is going to change the entire debate on the left, which may make Hillary a little uncomfortable.

The fact that Senator Sanders is even considering to run has many 1%’ers running scared. The more Bernie talks about running, the more speeches like this one, get pushed into the mainstream media.  The 1% does not want you to know that they are secretly creating policies that suppress your wages, and boost their profits.  The 1% does not want you to know that they have been working to break our unions, and repeal the minimum wage. The 1% does not want you to know that they are secretly changing our environmental laws to make it easier to pollute our planet.

“The problems we face today are probable more serious than at any time since the Great Depression” warned Sanders.  “From the bottom my heart, I believe these problems are solvable, but they will not be solved unless working people come together and have the courage to take on the greed and the selfishness that we are seeing all over this country.”

At one point Senator Sanders talked about how our entire tax structure is unbalanced and that we have to do something about the vast income inequality currently dividing our country.  This is effecting our communities as local budgets are getting tighter and tighter. Lack of revenue and budget cuts have forced teachers to be laid off.  Laying off teachers is the worst thing we can do if we are trying to build strong community.  Teachers are forced out while Wall Street hedge fund managers collect obscene amounts of money.

“24 of the most lucrative hedge fund managers made more money than 425,000 public school teachers. That makes sense to nobody I know,” Sanders said.

Senator Sander also talked about David Koch’s Libertarian agenda when he ran for Vice President in 1980.  All of the things that were too extreme for main stream Republicans in 1980 like, repealing the minimum wage, the repeal of Social Security, repealing campaign finance laws, the abolition of the USPS and the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid, are now the basis of the modern day TEA Party led Republican Party.

All of these policy changes favor those ultra-wealthy 1%’ers and basically screw the rest of us.  That is not what our founding fathers wanted when they created our democracy.

Senator Sanders said, “We live in a Democracy not an Oligarchy!”

I say RUN, Bernie, RUN!!!

 

Watch Senator Sanders entire speech at the New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast below. 

 

Jeanne Shaheen Is Making A Difference For New Hampshire Women

Jeanne Shaheen outside

Jeanne Shaheen outside

“Women deserve the right to make decisions about their health care.  These decisions should not be made by an employer, they shouldn’t be made by the government – they should be made by women.”
– Senator Jeanne Shaheen

For more than two decades, Jeanne Shaheen has worked to make a difference for women in New Hampshire.  She stands up for what she believes in, like equal pay for equal work and a woman’s right to make health care decisions independent of her employer or the government.

Jeanne is the first and only woman in the country elected to serve as both a Governor and U.S. Senator.

As our Governor, Jeanne Shaheen signed bipartisan legislation to protect women’s access to basic preventive health care.  In the Senate, Shaheen won bipartisan passage of the “Shaheen Amendment” to provide health care coverage for abortion to women in the military who are victims of rape, cosponsored and was a leader in reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and fought to protect funding for Planned Parenthood including access to birth control and cancer screenings.

ADVOCATING FOR WORKING WOMEN AND FAMILIES

Jeanne co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a historic step toward workplace equality for women and signed pay equity legislation into law as Governor.  She has championed the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work.  Existing pay inequities mean a woman and her family can lose more than $400,000 over the course of her career.  That is money that doesn’t go toward her owning a home, helping her children afford a college education, or providing economic security for her retirement.

Continuing on her work as Governor, Jeanne Shaheen is fighting to make childcare more affordable for working mothers.  In 1998, she established the Governor’s Business Commission on Child Care and Early Education.  In the Senate, she introduced the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act to increase the amount of eligible child care expenses used to calculate the tax credit that helps make child care more affordable.

Jeanne Shaheen understands the economic challenges New Hampshire families face as they struggle with the rising cost of childcare.  It can cost a New Hampshire family more than $11,000 per year for infant and toddler care.

PROTECTING WOMEN’S ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE

For more than two decades, Jeanne Shaheen has been fighting to expand affordable access to health services for New Hampshire women.  As New Hampshire’s Governor, she signed into law bipartisan legislation requiring insurance coverage for contraceptive services.  In the Senate, she has been an outspoken advocate for women’s reproductive rights and expanded access to basic contraception and family planning care with no out of pocket costs to 253,000 women in New Hampshire.

When the Executive Council waged a war on women’s access to health care, Jeanne Shaheen fought back. She urged the federal Health and Human Services Department to provide a direct federal contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England to restore these critical health services.

Jeanne Shaheen makes a difference for the more than 17,000 women in New Hampshire who count on Planned Parenthood for affordable access to basic health services like breast exams, birth control, and cancer screenings.

Jeanne Shaheen’s leadership gained passage of history-making legislation, known as the Shaheen Amendment. It ended more than 30 years of unequal treatment of women in the military and provides health insurance coverage for abortion for women serving in the military who are victims of rape or incest.

SUPPORTING WOMEN SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

As a former owner and manager of small business, a governor, and a mother, Jeanne Shaheen knows the challenges New Hampshire’s small business owners face in balancing their budgets and meeting payroll.  This is why she is working hard to support women who own and operate New Hampshire small businesses.

Small business make up for more than 96% of all New Hampshire employers, and more than 25% of them are owned by women.  As member of the Senate Small Business Committee, Jeanne Shaheen authored bipartisan legislation so women owned small businesses would have a fair shot at federal contracts.  And she worked with the Small Business Administration to open the Center for Women’s Business Advancement at Southern New Hampshire University to help women in business.

A SENATOR NEW HAMPSHIRE WOMEN CAN COUNT ON

In Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire women have a Senator they can trust to fight for equal pay, champion the Violence Against Women Act, and protect their access to critical health services like preventive care and mammograms.  Her commonsense leadership makes a difference for Granite State women.

“White House Summit On Working Families” Focuses On Working Women And Their Families

(Image by Din Jimenez FLIKR)
(Image by Din Jimenez FLIKR)

(Image by Din Jimenez FLIKR)

Working families across the nation are struggling to make ends meet.  Unemployment is still too high, wages are too low, and people are working more and more, while getting less and less.

This week, workers from all across our great nation will be meeting with President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, and the Department of Labor for the White House Summit on Working Families.

The summit is focused on building an economy, and a workplace, that works for all Americans, with a focus on issues that face women and their families.  The Summit will focus on key issues such as workplace flexibility, equal pay, workplace discrimination, worker retention and promotion, and childcare/early childhood education.

Anna Neighbor, a Philadelphia adjunct professor cobbles together teaching positions at as many as four different colleges in a sometimes futile attempt to make ends meet.  She said college students are paralyzed by student loan debt, while a majority of their professors—like herself—work part time, are underpaid and receive no benefits.

Anna mirrors the struggles of many working people who have continued to see an erosion of their pay as the cost of living continues to rise. Even though Anna has an advanced degree, and is a college level educator, she receives no benefits and gets paid as low as $10 per hour.

Priscilla Smith, a teacher’s aide in Lake View, N.Y., near Buffalo, had to take on extra evening, weekend and early morning jobs to help her family financially.

We need to change the way we treat, and pay, our educators. The people, who are educating the workers of tomorrow, should not be forced to work two and three jobs to avoid living in poverty.

Gloria Wright, a 20-year Detroit preschool paraprofessional/assistant teacher hasn’t seen a raise in more than five years. She thinks about leaving the profession, but the pull of the rewards she receives from her students’ accomplishments keeps her in the classroom.

For many people serving their community is very rewarding, however you cannot pay the bills with the smiles of happy four-year olds. Like Gloria, many continue to live on the edge of financial ruin because they truly love the kids, and love what they are doing for their community.

Kendra Liddell a Seattle single mother is paid so little as a 10-year early childhood educator that she has to earn supplemental income to get by. She plans to get a degree in a better-paying field to bring some financial stability to her family, and then return to the classroom because of her deep commitment to serving families and her community.

For decades policy makers have been trying to find solutions to the fact that women continue to earn less than men.  In spite of our best efforts women on average make $.77 on the dollar to a man.  For women of color, the problem is even worse. “African-American women are paid only 64 cents, and Hispanic women only 54 cents, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.”

Women continued to be oppressed in the workplace. Across the board women represent 42% of the overall workforce. Yet women are often excluded from industries like the building trades, which pay much better than retail or office work.  In fact, only 2.6% of all construction workers are women, a number that has remained relatively unchanged for over 30 years.

Percent of Women in Workforce

Vanessa Casillas a bricklayer from Chicago, IL said, “I like being outside and working with my hands, and if I feel good doing it, why should I be limited if I’m a woman?”

Rocky Hwasta a carpenter of Cleveland, OH said, “I became a carpenter in 1985.  Women were not accepted then and are not accepted now.  Although I had a bachelor’s degree, as a single mom, I needed a good paying job with benefits to raise my family of three children.”

Women in the workplace 2

Recently eleven New Hampshire union building trades opened their doors in a special invitation for women to learn a lasting trade.  The Building Pathways NH program gave local women the chance to see what a career in the building trades would be with a rigorous, five week, hands-on introduction to the different skilled trades.  After they complete the Building Pathways program, they are invited to join a full apprentice program with any of the associated unions.

Elizabeth Skidmore, Business Agent for the Carpenters Local 118, helped create the Building Pathways NH program and will be speaking about the new and innovative program, as an invited guest at the Working Families Summit.

“I’m honored to be included in this summit and that the work a broad team has done over the last five years to increase the number of women working in union construction has been given to the White House as a national best practice,” said Skidmore. “Many partners, from labor to local, state and federal government, as well as union contractors and community partners, have worked together to identify and implement game changers, which has put more women to work in these high-skill, high-pay careers.”

The Working Families Summit will hopefully find solutions to some of the many problems that are plaguing working families.  Problems like low pay, good affordable healthcare, retirements, sick days, paid time off and pay equity.

Our economy does better when we all do better.  We need an America that works for everyone, businesses and workers alike.

New White House Reports Shows Women Benefit The Most From A Minimum Wage Increase

Women and the Minimum Wage

The growing income inequality has become a major issue in the United States in recent years.  Much of this debate has surrounded by the failure of the minimum wage to keep up with the ever-growing cost of living.

There have been many studies done by numerous think tanks that show if we raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour it will lift millions of low-wage workers out of poverty.  While the opponents of a minimum wage increase like to say that many of the low-wage workers are just teenagers earning extra spending money, the truth could not be farther from the truth.

“Most people who would get a raise if we raise the minimum wage are not teenagers on their first job – their average age is 35.  A majority of lower-wage jobs are held by women.  These Americans are working full-time, often supporting families, and if the minimum wage had kept pace with our economy’s productivity, they’d already be earning well over $10 an hour today.  Instead, it’s stuck at $7.25.  Every time Congress refuses to raise it, it loses value because the cost of living goes higher, minimum wage stays the same.”

– President Obama, Remarks at Central Connecticut State University, March 5, 2014

The wage gap between men and women has also come to the forefront of the low-wage discussion with recent political pushes for legislation like paycheck fairness and the Lily Ledbetter Act.

The fact is that women are the majority of low-wage workers, over 55%, of the people who would be effected by a minimum wage increase.  This is even more evident when we talk about the tipped minimum wage.  Women make up 75% of workers in tipped occupations.

Women and the Minimum Wage

Many states have a reduced minimum wage for tipped workers. For example the tipped minimum wage in New Hampshire is $3.27 an hour.  This means the employer, the restaurant, only has to pay employees $3.27 an hour provided the employee makes enough in tips to ensure that they are paid the state minimum wage ($7.25).   19 states have a tipped minimum wage of $2.13 an hour, while six states do not have any reduced minimum for tipped workers.

Tipped Minimum Wage by State

The truth is that workers in predominantly tipped occupations are twice as likely as other workers to experience poverty, and servers are almost three times as likely to be in poverty.  It is glaringly obvious that workers who rely on tips are not making enough to support themselves or their families.

Just like the minimum wage, the power of the tipped wage has eroded over the last 20 years since it was last increased.  Since 1991, the tipped minimum wage has declined by 40 percent in real terms.  Today, the tipped minimum wage equals just 29 percent of the full minimum wage, the lowest share since the tipped minimum wage was established in 1966.

 

Tipped wages lost value

Another major issue with the tipped minimum wage is that not all employees are making enough in tips to reach the minimum wage. When surveyed, more than 1 in 10 workers in predominantly tipped occupations report hourly wages below the full national minimum wage, including tips.

Raising the full minimum wage and the tipped minimum wage will help reduce poverty among women and their families, as well as make progress toward closing the gender pay gap.

  • About one-quarter (26 percent) of all workers who would benefit from increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 have dependent children, and 31 percent of female workers who would benefit have children.
  • 2.8 million working single parents would benefit from the President’s proposed increase in the full minimum wage, more than 80 percent of whom are women.
  • Research shows that raising the minimum wage reduces child poverty among female-headed households.
  • Increasing the minimum wage can also help women work their way out of poverty and into the middle class.
  • For every dollar that men earn, women earn just 77 cents. Estimates from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers suggest that increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation could close about 5 percent of the gender wage gap.

Chances are that you know someone who works hard in a low-wage job who will benefit from an increase in the minimum wage.  Raising the minimum wage will help workers lift themselves out of poverty and reduce the amount of money they receive from government assistance programs.   Raising the minimum wage is common sense. America needs a long overdue raise, and the time is now.

 

Read the full White House report: THE IMPACT OF RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE ON WOMEN – March 2014

 

Granite State Rumblings: The Earned Income Tax Credit Is A Boost To Working Families

Taxes

TaxesWell we are coming up on tax season again. If you are like me, you are thinking about how nice a refund check would be this year!

More than 1 in 5 children (22%) nationwide live in families with incomes below $22,000/year, and 1 in 10 children live in families with incomes of $11,000 a year or less. Did you know that for many low and moderate income families there are several tax credits that many do not take advantage of when filing their taxes? The Child Tax Credit is one.

The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is a partially-refundable tax credit designed to help those families with the cost of raising those children, helping reduce the hardship and expand opportunities for those children. Like the Earned Income Tax Credit, the CTC is also designed to incentivize work.

The CTC is the largest tax code provision benefiting families with children.  By reducing the income tax liability of low-income families with children, and offering a refund of up to $1,000/child to some families, this credit helps offset the cost of raising children. It is estimated that a $1,000 increase in family income helps increase child math scores by 2 percent and reading scores by 3.5 percent. We also know this credit goes right towards bettering the lives of children. Data shows that low-income families spend a larger share of their pre-tax income directly on their children than those with higher incomes (25 percent v.16 percent for middle class families and 12 percent for wealthy families).

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is another. Here is information from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities about the EITC.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a federal tax credit for low- and moderate-income working people. It is designed to encourage and reward work as well as offset federal payroll and income taxes. The EITC is “refundable,” which means that if it exceeds a low-wage worker’s income tax liability, the IRS will refund the balance.

Single or married people who worked full-time or part-time at some point in 2013 can qualify for the EIC, depending on their income.

  • Workers who were raising one child in their home and had income of less than $37, 870 (or $43, 210 for married workers) in 2013 can get an EIC of up to $3,250.
  • Workers who were raising two children in their home and had income of less than $43, 038 (or $48,378 for married workers) in 2013 can get an EIC of up to $5,372.
  • Workers who were raising three or more children in their home and had income of less than $46, 227 (or $51,567 for married workers) in 2013 can get an EIC of up to $6,044.

The EITC is designed to encourage and reward work. Beginning with the first dollar, a worker’s EITC grows with each additional dollar of earnings until the credit reaches the maximum value. This creates an incentive for people to leave welfare for work and for low-wage workers to increase their work hours.

This incentive feature has made the EITC highly successful. Studies have shown, for example, that the EITC — especially in the presence of a strong labor market — has encouraged large numbers of single parents to leave welfare for work. The Committee for Economic Development, an organization of 250 corporate executives and university presidents, concluded in 2000 that “The EITC has become a powerful force in dramatically raising the employment of low-income women in recent years.”

Next to Social Security, the EITC combined with the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit constitutes the nation’s most powerful anti-poverty program.  These two credits lifted 10.1 million people out of poverty in 2012, including 5.3 million children

The EITC reduces poverty by supplementing the earnings of workers with low wages and low earnings. There has been broad bipartisan agreement that a two-parent family with two children with a full-time, minimum-wage worker should not have to raise its children in poverty. At the federal minimum wage’s current level, such a family can move above the poverty line for an average family of four only if it receives the EITC as well as SNAP (food stamp) benefits.

For young children, moving out of poverty is particularly important. Research has found that lifting income in early childhood not only tends to improve a child’s immediate educational outcomes, but also is associated with more schooling, more hours worked, and higher earnings in adulthood. One such study showed a link between an increase in the EITC for families with more than two children and an increase in achievement in middle childhood for children in these families.

 Growing Up Granite

This year many New Hampshire workers will qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for the first time because their income declined or they became unemployed; tax refunds through the EITC and Child Tax Credit can help low- and moderate-income families cover day-to-day expenses such as utilities, rent, and child care.

EITC and the Child Tax Credit are not considered as income in
determining your eligibility for benefits like TANF, food stamps, and Medicaid.

The number of New Hampshire families that claimed the EITC in 2013, (for tax year 2012), were 78,000. The average EITC dollar amount was $1,882.

The total EITC dollar amount that NH families received was $147 million. The IRS estimates, however, that one in five of eligible people could miss out on the EITC because they don’t know about it, don’t know that they qualify, or don’t know where to find free tax filing assistance.

Yes you read that correctly. Free tax filing assistance is available for some families and individuals in New Hampshire. Below you will find several ways to get help filing your tax return:

Visit a local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site, The Vita Program offers free tax help to low- to moderate-income ($51,000 and below) people who cannot prepare their own tax returns.

Visit a local American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) tax preparation site. The IRS certifies volunteers to provide free tax help through the Tax-Aide Program.

The majority of the VITA and TCE sites are open annually from late January/early February to April 15. During this time, you can locate a site near you using the above locator tools.

To have your tax return(s) prepared at a VITA or TCE site you need to bring the following information with you:

  • Proof of identification – Picture ID
  • Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration or
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter for you, your spouse and dependents
  • Proof of foreign status, if applying for an ITIN
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents on the tax return
  • Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc from all employers
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099)
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns if available
  • Proof of bank account routing numbers and account numbers for Direct Deposit, such as a blank check
  • Total paid for daycare provider and the daycare provider’s tax identifying number (the provider’s Social Security Number or the provider’s business Employer Identification Number) if appropriate
  • To file taxes electronically on a married-filing-joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.

You could do your taxes yourself, by going online to The Internal Revenue Service web site www.irs.gov.

NH House Shows Strong Support For Working Families With Today’s Votes

NH House

NH House Shows Strong Support for Working Families on Votes to Pass Paycheck Fairness, Paycheck Protections & Raise the Wage

GRANITE STATE PROGRESS PRAISES HOUSE, COMMITTEE VOTES ON HB 1188, HB 1404, AND HB 1403

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire House voted today to pass a paycheck fairness bill and strengthen worker payroll protections; in addition the House Labor Committee voted to support a bill to raise the minimum wage in New Hampshire. Statements from Granite State Progress:

Paycheck Fairness (HB 1188)

The NH House of Representatives voted 183-125 in bi-partisan support of HB 1188 today, which provides stronger protection for employers by clarifying the conditions when wage disparities between men and women performing the same work are allowable. The legislation also strengthens the protections of current equal pay laws by prohibiting employers from adopting workplace policies that bar employees from voluntarily disclosing earnings information, and by prohibiting retaliation against employees who opt to share information about their wages, salaries, and benefits.

Statement from Granite State Progress Political and Research Director Caitlin Rollo:

“This is an important piece of legislation that provides employees with the legal tools they need to challenge the wage gap in New Hampshire. According to the most recent data from the US Census Bureau, full-time female workers in New Hampshire make 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts, which mirrors the national pay gap average. Today, 40% of women are the sole providers for their family and another 20% are co-providers. The existence of such disparities in pay equity reduces the wages of working families who rely on the wages of all the workers in the family to make ends meet. There are current barriers in the workplace that make it hard for women and other workers to determine whether they are being paid in an equitable fashion, and HB 1188 remedies that situation. We applaud the legislature for their work on the important issue of paycheck fairness.”

(Also read the statement from NH House Leadership on the passage of HB 1188)

Payroll Cards (HB 1404)

The NH House of Representatives also voted 201-104 in bi-partisan support of HB 1404 today, which provides more consumer protections for payroll cards. Payroll cards act as a form of debit cards, often carrying a brand such as Visa or Mastercard, and are used as such – right down to the fees for withdrawals, payments and balance checks. At American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meetings in 2010 and 2011, Visa introduced model bills and resolutions on payroll cards to encourage their use. In response, HB 1404 updates New Hampshire consumer protections for payroll cards to eliminate a number of “gotcha” or surprise fees, provide better access to card balances, and mandate disclosure of all payment options in clear, plain language.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Corporations like Visa have been eager to transition workers from paychecks to payroll cards to collect more fees from the transactions, including transaction fees charged at local businesses who accept the cards for payment. HB 1404 is a smart piece of legislation that will update New Hampshire’s consumer protections and eliminate the additional fees and expenses for workers to collect and use their paycheck. It also requires that all payment options be shared with workers upfront, in clear, plain language. Granite State Progress is proud of the House members who stood strong to protect workers and small businesses in our state.”

Raise the Wage (HB 1403)

The NH House Labor committee voted 10-8 in support of HB 1403 today, raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire.  HB 1403 would raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage in two stages and provide for annual cost of living increases in the future.  It would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour on January 1, 2015 and to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2016.  Beginning January 1, 2017, it would automatically increase New Hampshire’s minimum wage to account for inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index.

Statement from Granite State Progress Political and Research Director Caitlin Rollo:

“Our organization absolutely believes that working people should be able to pay their own bills rather than rely on taxpayer assistance, and because of that we support having a strong minimum wage that reflects the real needs and economic climate in our state. Raising the wage will benefit thousands of workers and families across our state with a modest increase set in two stages then indexed to the cost of living. These are primarily adults who work at least half or full time, who have real responsibilities and families. We applaud the House Labor Committee for its support to raise the wage and encourage the full House to move forward with this bill.”

Note: Three-quarters of Granite Staters – including majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats – support increasing the minimum wage to $9 per hour, according to the Granite State Poll.

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