HB 6187 An Act Concerning the Restructuring of Certain Taxes and Equity SB 821 An Act Concerning the Reformation of Certain Taxes and Tax Equity

Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee

March 15, 2021

Stephen Monroe Tomczak, Ph.D., L.M.S.W.

Good afternoon Senator Fonfara, Representative Scanlon, Senator Martin, Representative Cheeseman, and the distinguished members of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.  My name is Stephen Monroe Tomczak, and I am a longtime resident of Wallingford. I serve on the legislative action network of the National Association of Social Workers, Connecticut Chapter and am a leader in my chapter of the American Association of University Professors at Southern Connecticut State University where I teach social welfare policy and community organization in our social work department.  Both NASW/CT and CSU-AAUP are members of the Recovery for All coalition.

I am testifying in strong support of HB 6187 and SB 821. This year has been a painful struggle for so many Connecticut families.  The COVID pandemic has further exposed and exacerbated Connecticut’s deep economic disparities and pushed many to the brink of desperation.  The scale of this crisis demands a bold response—people are suffering and our state has a responsibility to meet our needs.

Our current tax system is extremely unfair, and exacerbates rather than reduces the extreme economic inequality in Connecticut – as a recent report from Connecticut Voices for Children has demonstrated.[1]  Currently, if you make less than $53,000 a year, you pay an effective tax rate more than triple that of someone making over $680,000 a year.   These bills help address this unfairness and will benefit our economy by sending direct assistance to individuals who have lost their jobs during the pandemic with one-time direct stimulus payments of $500. This would cost $75 million. They will provide relief to property owners for taxes levied on residences and motor vehicles by doubling the maximum property tax credit to $400. This would cost an estimated $63 million annually. Additionally, this legislation will lower taxes on working class families by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 50% of the federal EITC and include taxpayers who file with an ITIN. This would cost an estimated $155 million annually.

Unfortunately, in the midst of the greatest crisis in 100 years, Governor Lamont proposed an austerity budget that will guarantee a stagnant economy, drawn-out recession, and worsening inequality.  The budget benefits the ultra-wealthy by continuing cuts to the estate tax for multimillion dollar estates, placing the burden of this crisis on those with far less ability to pay.  Governor Lamont wants to raise the gas tax and tax on retired teachers.  The budget includes cuts in assistance to families, people with disabilities, and the elderly, and creates an asset test for the Medicare Savings Program.  We need to invest more in Connecticut’s people, not less.

There is a better way, and progressive taxation is at the heart of it.  We have an unprecedented opportunity to stop the hurt so many families are feeling by funding essential services, reducing economic and racial inequality, and setting our state on a path to robust economic recovery by restoring fairness to our tax code, I urge the Committee to have the courage to make the right choice and pass HB 6187 and SB 821.  Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

[1] O’Brien, Patrick R. (2020). Reforming Connecticut’s Tax System: A Program to Strengthen Working- and Middle-Class Families. Retrieved from https://ctvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Reforming-Connecticuts-Tax-System-A-Program-to-Strengthen-Working-and-Middle-Class-Families_Final.pdf


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