New Article: Leslie Book, Meeting Taxpayers Where They Live: Improving US Refundable Credits While Reflecting the Lives of the Working Poor, forthcoming J. Tax Administration (SSRN Oct. 2017). Abstract below:
This paper looks at the American experience in using tax law to deliver benefits to low and moderate-wage workers. First, examining two recent court cases where individuals improperly claimed the earned income tax credit, this paper explores some of the challenges to both taxpayers and tax administrators associated with using the tax system to deliver benefits that are dependent on levels of attachment to children and the presence of earned income. The paper then explores two approaches to improve compliance. One approach is a proposal in a recent Heritage Foundation policy briefing recommending that only parents with legal custody of their children should be entitled to receive the earned income tax credit. The state of California, in adopting the other approach, excludes self-employment income from its definition of earned income in its state earned income tax credit. Both measures fail to reflect characteristics of the lives of the working poor, including a growing reliance on multi-generational living arrangements and shared care of children and a surge in nontraditional employment associated with the gig economy.
Despite the problems with the proposals, they reflect genuine compliance concerns. This paper concludes with recommendations to address those compliance concerns that will likely serve the goal of improving integrity, while also ensuring the law and administration of the law reflects the lives of lower-income Americans who increasingly rely on the tax system to meet basic needs and support their families.
David A. Super, Implementing the three-month time limit on SNAP for unemployed 18-to 49-year-olds, Center for Civil Justice, July 2, 2015. [Excerpted below]
The 1996 welfare law for the first time imposed a time limit on the eligibility of low-income people for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits even when they are complying with all program requirements. The Congressional Budget Office initially estimated that this provision would cause roughly one million childless people between the ages of 18 and 50 who want to work but cannot find jobs to lose benefits in an average month. Fortunately, even states that strongly support imposing demanding work requirements on recipients recognized the unfairness of cutting off people who are willing to work. As a result, several hundred thousand people were spared arbitrary cut-offs.
Lynn Wombold, Is the American Dream still affordable, ESRI, 2017. [“The only known in this equation is that the hopes and dreams of Millennials will lead the way.”]
Colby Itkowitz, This Republican mayor has an incredibly simple idea to help the homeless. And it seems to be working, Washington Post, August, 11, 2016. [Public works day jobs provide hope for Albuquerque’s homeless.]
John Bouman, Poverty Matters: Five Key Takeaways from the 2016 Census Data Poverty Matters: Five Key Takeaways from the 2016 Census Data, The Shriver Brief, September 13, 2017. [Slight improvements haven not translated into gains for those facing poverty.]
Thomas Adams, How the Ruling Class Remade New Orleans, Jacobin Magazine, August 2015. [“The language of social justice has been used to sell intensified neoliberalism in post-Katrina New Orleans.”]
The Editorial Board, Unemployment in Black and White, Washington Post, August 28, 2017. [“The hard truth is that the persistence of twice-as-high joblessness for black workers has led policy makers to accept it as normal.”]
Posted in Economic Mobility, Economics, Education, Employment, Family, Inequality, Jobs, Measuring Poverty, Op-Ed, Politics, Race, Uncategorized, Unsolicited Advice
New Report: Heather Hahn, Michael Katz, & Julia B. Isaacs, What Is It Like to Apply for SNAP and Other Work Supports?, Urban Institute, Aug. 2017. Abstract below:
Many working families are eligible for help with food, health insurance, and child care to support their families and stabilize their employment. Applying for support, though, can be confusing and time intensive, leaving some eligible families without key supports. This brief examines the experiences of clients applying for work supports: what they go through, what they care about, and how experiences differ for different clients. We find that state social service agencies and local social services office can help families access supports by using fast, efficient processes; offering a range of options for how to apply, including online systems; interacting with clients respectfully; and providing clear information on how to apply for and maintain supports.
New Book: Invisible Labor: Hidden Work in the Contemporary World (Marion Crain, Winifred Poster, and Miriam Cherry eds., 2016). Overview below:
Across the world, workers labor without pay for the benefit of profitable businesses—and it’s legal. Labor trends like outsourcing and technology hide some workers, and branding and employer mandates erase others. Invisible workers who remain under-protected by wage laws include retail workers who function as walking billboards and take payment in clothing discounts or prestige; waitstaff at “breastaurants” who conform their bodies to a business model; and inventory stockers at grocery stores who go hungry to complete their shifts. Invisible Labor gathers essays by prominent sociologists and legal scholars to illuminate how and why such labor has been hidden from view.
New Article: Anne Marie Lofaso, Workers’ Rights as Natural Human Rights, 71 U. Miami L. Rev. 565 (2017). Abstract below:
We live in an increasingly polarized world: one summed up by President Clinton, “we’re all in this together;” the other summed up by then-presidential candidate Trump, “I alone can fix it.” These world views have implications for workers and how the future workplace is ordered. In this Article, I explore the idea that a natural human rights approach to workplace regulations will tend to favor the we’reall-in-this-together view, whereas the Lochnerian or neoliberal view tends to favor an individualistic world view.
The Article’s six-step analytical approach starts with a historical analysis of labor law jurisprudence, concluding that U.S. labor laws must be filtered through a law-and-economic lens of U.S.-styled capitalism to predict the outcomes of legal disputes and to expose human rights infirmities inherent to that approach. In step two, I explore T.H. Marshall’s account of citizenship, concluding that Marshall’s rights-based rubric is too limited to fully explain workers’ rights, which tend to cut across the full gamut of human rights. In step three, I expand upon Marshall’s work to build a framework for evaluating workplace laws based on the worker as a citizen of the labor force who has human rights. I do this using two methodologies: (1) comparative legal analysis between U.S. law and international human rights standards; and (2) jurisprudential analysis of fundamental values within a rights-based framework. In step four, I modify John Rawls’s famous thought experiment to include a veil of empathy. In that modified experiment, I conclude that participants in the original position behind a veil of empathy would generate values underlying human rights, namely autonomy (to become part author of one’s work life) and dignity (to be treated as a person always as an end and never merely as a means). In step five, I apply this human rights approach to show that workers’ and employers’ interests conflict at the interests-level and, more fundamentally, at the values-level. I conclude that these conflicts are primarily over the distribution of that which labor and capital create. This distributional question is fundamental a question of moral and political justice, which will and does have real political consequences. In step six, I set forth a path along which this research project should explore.