CREDO Grantee Americans for Tax Fairness Is Fighting for an Economy That Works for Everyone

Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) is a coalition of more than 400 national and state endorsing organizations focused on creating an economy that works for all of us by making sure the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share of taxes. 

Like the rest of the world, ATF has seen its work upended by the coronavirus pandemic. It has been fighting to ensure the federal government’s response to the economic emergency delivers timely and sufficient aid directly to workers, families and communities and doesn’t get hijacked by corporate special interests. The goal is to prevent a repeat of what happened during the financial crisis of 2008, when Wall Street banks, auto companies and other corporations were bailed out, while homeowners, workers and other innocent victims of the crisis were left to fend for themselves.

Specifically, ATF has fought against tax cuts as a remedy, because they are slow, inefficient and tend to reward most those who need help least: the wealthy and big corporations. ATF was a leader of the successful effort to reject President Trump’s proposed payroll tax cut, which would have given almost two-thirds of the benefits to the highest-earning 20% of workers and been no help at all to the unemployed. After this bad idea was shelved, attention turned to the much more effective answer of sending immediate and substantial cash payments to all but the wealthiest families.

ATF has also been a leading voice demanding that corporations that benefited so much from the 2017 Trump-GOP tax law not be rewarded again with a no-strings-attached coronavirus bailout. It has insisted that financial assistance to impacted industries be in the form of loans, not tax cuts, and that they come with conditions such as reduced executive pay, no stock buybacks and dividend payouts that benefit wealthy shareholders, and protections for workers. ATF has also demanded that aid not come in the form of tax cuts, given the huge giveaway to corporations from the Trump-GOP tax cuts.

Most of these conditions were met in legislation proposed in the House, and some in the Senate bill, which are being negotiated as this blog was being posted.

When the immediate crisis has passed, ATF will turn back to its top goal of getting the U.S. Congress to raise trillions of dollars in new revenue to strengthen Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and to make major new investments in healthcare, education, housing, childcare, renewable energy, rebuilding public infrastructure, and more.

Even against the concerted efforts of much better financed opponents, ATF has been succeeding. It continues to successfully prosecute the case against the destructive Trump-GOP tax law, which will cost nearly $2 trillion in lost revenue over 10 years and mostly benefits the wealthy and corporations. On the law’s second anniversary last December, ATF mobilized its allies to highlight its eight worst broken promises.

But ATF isn’t just playing defense. It’s been building support for progressive tax reforms that could raise up to $10 trillion over 10 years to create an economy that works for all of us.

On Tax Day last year, ATF released a major report outlining the best options for creating what it calls a “fair share tax system” as a blueprint for Congress, candidates and activists.

Many of ATF’s progressive tax proposals wound up in the tax plans of leading Democratic presidential candidates. The group’s op-ed in the Des Moines Register shortly before the Iowa caucuses celebrated the surge of progressive tax policy in the presidential campaign. ATF rightly takes some of the credit for making mainstream what were once considered “extreme” tax-and-spending plans.

ATF has also launched several progressive tax proposals with key members of Congress, including the Millionaires Surtax, which would slap a 10% surtax on the income of married couples that exceeds $2 million a year—the richest 0.2%! It would raise $635 billion over 10 years and has been endorsed by 72 national groups.

Finally, ATF has continued to lead the progressive community’s demand that President Trump release his tax returns, as explained in this USA Today op-ed.

Tax fairness is tough to achieve, but it’s what our economy needs, the American people demand, and our democracy cannot survive without. Once our society has survived the present crisis, and backed by supporters like CREDO and its members, ATF will return to pushing for a tax system that truly works for working families.