Side view of a piggy bank with the flag design of North Carolina

Our tax dollars help our communities and our neighbors prosper

As the tax season comes to a close — the third one in this pandemic — I am reminded of just how connected the resiliency of our community is to whether we all pay what we owe to build the public institutions that can make it so.

Our public dollars can make things better for people . Programs like vaccination drives and direct payments to people affected by job loss or grants to small businesses to stay afloat, paid for with public dollars, prevented much of the harm that could have happened during the pandemic.

Recent research from the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities shows the number of people living in poverty fell in 2020, health insurance remained stable, and evictions didn’t surge despite people struggling to pay rent. And these benefits extended to the economy as a whole; the Congressional Budget Office, along with international researchers, consistently found that bigger fiscal responses were tied to stronger growth.

Today is a day to reflect on what we did collectively with our dollars to reduce the harm of this pandemic.

It should be a day to double down with pride on the power of our public dollars to make sure our neighbors and our communities have what they need to be well.

We should recognize that our well-being is intertwined.

And yet, there remains a tendency to give tax breaks to those who don’t need them, to ignore the potential for building a more just state when everyone contributes what they owe.

In the final budget passed in November, as we wrote about in our recent report analyzing the latest spending proposal, the income tax cuts will reduce revenue by $8 billion annually when fully in effect.

These tax changes made it immediately impossible for state policymakers to make faster progress on building a more stable, affordable early childhood education system statewide in order to address the funding requirements to ensure every child has access to a sound, basic education. They also made it impossible to address the backlog of infrastructure projects, including the development of affordable housing.

In the long-term, it will grow the gap between what we have to deploy and what is needed to make lives better in our communities.

This Tax Day, the power of our public dollars is clear. Imagine what would be possible if our tax code wasn’t rigged for the well-off and everyone paid what they owed.