This post is the eighth in a series of weekly posts containing tax information and filing tips. Check back next week for our next post, or click here to read past posts.
April 15th is fast approaching, which means the time to file your taxes is running out. I know what you’re thinking – “I’d rather watch paint dry.” I felt the same way. Filing my taxes ranks high on my list of most boring life activities, but unlike waiting in endless airport lines or sitting in traffic, it comes with a great reward.
After filing my taxes, I felt accomplished – I crossed off a big item on my to-do list, I was now compliant with the law, and I had fulfilled my civic duty. But best of all, I knew I had a nice refund coming my way. Little did I know how quickly it would arrive. I filed my federal tax return online on March 26 and by April 3 the U.S. Treasury Department had deposited my refund into my bank account.
A number of governors called for significant new investments in early care and education to expand access to high-quality early learning opportunities. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said he wanted to "ensure that every child in Massachusetts has access to high-quality early education."
This morning I visited a Head Start classroom with NWLC’s Director of Child Care and Early Learning, Helen Blank, and two recognizable guests.
Helen was part of a select group of early childhood advocates invited to join Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as they visited the Judy Center at Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park, Maryland. Judy Centers are located in or affiliated with elementary school across Maryland and provide a comprehensive set of services for at-risk children birth through age five and their families.
Secretaries Duncan and Sebelius treated the children to a great rendition of “Green Eggs and Ham” and I got to play press photographer. The children seemed to thoroughly enjoy their new storytellers though they were a bit skeptical when Secretary Sebelius tried to use the story to encourage them to try new foods.
“Have you ever tried a food you thought you wouldn’t like and then you liked it?” she asked.
Remember when a hot dog and a soda cost 39 cents? Yeah, neither do we.
We all know that restaurant prices rise nearly every year with inflation. The cost of everything from groceries to gas to rent rises, too. But many workers have not seen their wages rise in years, leaving them straining to make ends meet on paychecks that keep getting smaller relative to the cost of living.
For our neighbors in Maryland, the minimum wage is stuck at $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum, and the minimum cash wage for tipped workers is woefully low at $3.63 per hour (though higher than the federal floor of $2.13 per hour). If the minimum wage had risen with inflation over the past several decades, it would be close to $10.60 per hour today. But neither the minimum wage nor the tipped minimum wage is linked to inflation in Maryland, so the purchasing power of these extremely low wages erodes further each year.
But there is good news on the horizon. Maryland lawmakers are about to introduce a bill to gradually raise the Maryland minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.00 per hour, set the tipped minimum wage at 70 percent of the minimum wage, and index both wages to keep pace with inflation.
Kansas governor Sam Brownback wants to eliminate the state income tax. Yes, you read that correctly. The governor wants to join the small list of states that have chosen to eliminate a crucial revenue stream. In 2012, Governor Brownback sharply cut income tax rates to the tune of $850 million dollars in lost revenue for the coming fiscal year. Amid those big tax cuts that primarily benefit high-earners, he found time to eliminate tax provisions that benefit low-income Kansans, including a refund of sales tax paid on food and a state tax credit for child and dependent care expenses.
Consider these numbers: The poorest 20 percent of Kansans will spend, on average, an additional $148 per year on taxes because of the repeal of tax provisions aimed at low-income people. This is a significant blow to women and female-headed families in Kansas, 13.8 percent and 40.9 percent of whom live in poverty. Meanwhile, the richest one percent of Kansans will save an average of $21,087 per year on their state income taxes. As one Kansas state legislator told the New York Times, this tax package is “Robin Hood in reverse.”