Alabama scrapes the bottom of the barrel in many measures, but it’s tops at taxing the poor. Currently, there are two proposals in the legislature to raise the threshold for income tax. Right now it’s a princely $4,600 a year for a family of four. When that income level was set, it was quite progressive. Very few families earned that kind of money, and I guess legislators at the time couldn’t imagine a day when an income four times that high would fall below the poverty line.
Now it seems that raising what has become a ridiculously low threshold is akin to blasphemy. Apparently there are those who believe Jesus wants us to tax the poor deeper into poverty. If the poor would just work hard enough, they could pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. After all, the Bible says that God helps those who help themselves.* Maybe we should heed these words from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
“Eliminating state income taxes on working families with poverty-level incomes gives a boost in take-home pay that helps offset higher child care and transportation costs that families incur as they strive to become economically self-sufficient,” the report states. “In other words, relieving state income taxes on poor families can make a meaningful contribution toward `making work pay.’”
*Actually, it doesn’t, but 75% of people surveyed by the Barna Group think it does.