As states and localities across the country grapple with unprecedented budget shortfalls, policymakers are increasing their use of regressive taxes that hurt the working poor. In their new book, Taxing the Poor, Katherine Newman and Rourke O'Brien examine the way we tax the poor in the United States, with a special focus on the American South, where poor families are often subject to income taxes, and where regressive sales taxes apply even to food for home consumption. The authors argue that these policies contribute in unrecognized ways to poverty-related problems like obesity, early mortality, high school dropout rates, teen pregnancy, and crime. They show how many states implemented legislation that makes it almost impossible to raise property or corporate taxes, a pattern now growing in the western states. Taxing the Poor demonstrates how sales taxes intended to replace the missing revenue--taxes that at first glance appear fair--actually punish the poor and exacerbate the very conditions that drove them into poverty in the first place. What is the history of these policies? How much impact can local tax policy really have on problems like obesity and teen pregnancy? What policy options are available to ameliorate this situation? Do they stand a realistic chance of becoming law? Please join us as we discuss those questions and more with authors Katherine Newman and Rourke O'Brien. A reception with beer and wine will follow the event.
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