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Overdue Tax Cuts for Single Parents Waiting in Senate

A bill to fix an error in low-income income tax relief has passed House unanimously; a similar effort in 2009 died in the Senate.

LITTLE ROCK – Nearly 50,000 single-parent families with two or more children would get the tax relief they’ve been denied for four years under a bill waiting in a Senate committee.

A glitch in a 2007 tax relief bill left out certain families living below the poverty line from being exempted from paying state income taxes. These working families pay a disproportionately higher amount of taxes than other wage earners in the state. An attempt to correct the error in the 2009 Arkansas General Assembly fell short.

House Bill 1056 passed the Arkansas House of Representatives last month with 93 votes in favor and none against. It’s now waiting in a Senate committee for a hearing.

“This is the only tax-cut bill that provides targeted relief for low-income, working families,” said Rich Huddleston, Executive Director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. “Unless we fix this mistake, Arkansas will continue to levy one of the highest state income tax burdens on single-parent families living below the poverty line. This isn’t the kind of policy that ensures economic security for all Arkansans.”

A 2010 study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington D.C. found that Arkansas had the third highest state income tax burden in the country for single parents with two or more children and an income at the poverty line. We’re behind only Alabama and Hawaii.

Lower taxes on groceries are the only tax relief that low-income families have received since 2007 in Arkansas. Economists agree that tax relief provided to low-income working families is an effective way to stimulate local economies and keep people out of poverty.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Uvalde Lindsey of Fayetteville, would cost $3.7 million in the 2012 fiscal year and $3.8 million in the next fiscal year. Several other tax cut bills being considered by lawmakers this session would largely benefit the highest income earners in Arkansas.

“We understand that the state budget is tight and critical education, health and safety services need every dollar we can find to protect our investments children and families,” Huddleston said. “Any tax cut passed this year should be limited and targeted to low-income taxpayers who need relief the most.¬†This is the only bill that completely meets that standard.”