A Call for Tax Reform is a Call for Equity
The Tax Alliance for Economic Mobility recently sent around a compelling call to action on the issue of national tax reform. As the Tax Alliance clearly and correctly points out, an important goal of our tax system—beyond funding the government—is to aid Americans in developing their financial security.
In this goal the system has failed.
The current sprawling tax code favors the wealthy by an untenable margin. Its parade of deductions, credits, exclusions, and other loopholes provides more benefit to the top one percent of households than it does to those earning dramatically less. It leaves those Americans who most require assistance in building financial assets, such as savings for retirement, educational expenses or business development, with virtually no help.
The Tax Alliance’s call for tax reform is essentially a call for equity—a call that resonates with the Fund, as equity drives our work. This initiative from the Tax Alliance also requires cross-sector collaboration, a central tenet of how we at the Walter & Elise Haas Fund (W&EHF) pursue our goals.
While this campaign from the Tax Alliance for Economic Mobility is new, the push for economic equity is not, and it is certainly not new for W&EHF.
More than a decade ago, we launched the grantmaking area we call Economic Security for the Working Poor to address the widening income and asset gaps that separate the struggling from the affluent. At that time, work in this field was limited, though a few strong voices were helping to both draw attention and build momentum. From early on, working with our innovative grantees and foundation colleagues in the Asset Funders Network, W&EHF staff and trustees realized that developing economic security for the working poor ultimately required policy change at the state and federal levels.
That means tax reform—not in a progressive vs. conservative political manner, but in a bipartisan fashion, one that logically addresses failing policies of the current system. The Walter & Elise Haas Fund is proud to be an early and consistent supporter of the Tax Alliance for Economic Mobility. Our work on tax reform has taught us much and continues to teach us important lessons about collaboration, consensus, and perseverance. Working together we are building the foundation for significant policy shifts that will improve the economic well-being of millions of Americans.