by Fred Kammer, S.J.
The clearest statement on taxes and their morality came in the U.S. Bishops’ pastoral on Economic Justice for All. The bishops urged that, “The tax system should be continually evaluated in terms of its impact on the poor.”1 They enunciated three principles to guide such evaluations:
- First, the tax system should raise adequate revenues to pay for the public needs of society, especially to meet the basic needs of the poor.
- Secondly, the tax system should be structured according to the principle of progressivity, so that those with relatively greater financial resources pay a higher rate of taxation. The inclusion of such a principle in tax policies is an important means of reducing the severe inequalities of income and wealth in the nation.
- Thirdly, families below the official poverty line should not be required to pay income taxes. Such families are, by definition, without sufficient resources to purchase the basic necessities of life. They should not be forced to bear the additional burden of paying income taxes.21 They enunciated three principles to guide such evaluations.