Courtney: GOP chooses wealthy over military families

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney says a tax proposal approved by the House of Representatives Wednesday would impose stiff new taxes on military and middle-class families while continuing tax breaks for the wealthy.

The GOP plan would raise taxes for an estimated 25 million families nationwide by an average of $1,000, Courtney said, by reducing certain tax credits for people with modest incomes. It would scale back the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, as well as end a tax credit for college expenses, he added.

Many military families benefit from these tax credits, Courtney,
D-2nd District, said Wednesday.

"It's astonishing that at a time when we're still engaged in military conflicts that rely on an all-volunteer force, that tax policy is being tilted away from people who do some of the hardest work in our national defense," he said.

Courtney supports Senate legislation passed last week that extends the Bush-era tax cuts for incomes under $250,000 but lets the cuts lapse for the wealthy. The tax cuts are set to expire on Jan. 1, which is when the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration will take effect unless Congress acts to prevent it.

The Senate measure would "protect 98 percent of tax filers from any new tax liability," Courtney said. "Allowing the rates to go up for income above that threshold will help balance the budget and help us avoid the fiscal cliff that's sitting out there on Jan. 1."

It was voted on in the House Wednesday and did not pass.

The Center for American Progress analyzed how the GOP plan would affect military families and determined the tax bill "leaves some military families behind." Courtney's office used the center's information on Marine, Air Force and Army families to determine the impact on Navy families in southeastern Connecticut.

A third-class petty officer who served in the Navy for four years and is married with two children would pay $448 more in taxes, and a second-class petty officer who served eight years and is married with three children would pay $1,118 more because of the change to the Earned Income Tax Credit.

A seaman recruit in his first year of service, who is married with one child, would pay $273 more, based on 2013 pay rates.

"The math is what it is," Courtney said. "These families are going to end up with a higher tax liability."

Experts predict that the tax stalemate will not be resolved until after the election.

j.mcdermott@theday.com

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