To be sure, some states are worse than Missouri about punishing the poor with state income taxes. But we’re bad enough:
Poor families in Missouri continue to face substantial state income tax liability, according to a new report released today by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Single working parents with two children, earning $14,000 or more in Missouri , must pay income tax. The poverty line for this type of family is $17,165. A married couple with two children pays income tax if the household salary is $17,600 or more, well below the poverty level of $22,017 annually.
The state ekes a meager amount of blood out of those poor turnips instead of taking an extra pint from the wealthiest:
Missouri’s Income Tax brackets were established in 1931 and have not been adjusted since. As a result, all Missourians who earn at least $9,000 of adjusted gross income per year are taxed at the same rate of 6 percent, no matter how high or low their income is.
“A single mother of two earning $14,000 a year is taxed at the same rate as someone making $1 million a year. That just doesn’t make sense,” said Amy Blouin, executive director of the Missouri Budget Project. “We should modernize our tax structure to help working families struggling to escape poverty become economically successful, not tax them deeper into poverty.”
Essentially, then, Missouri has a flat tax. Other states have a modicum of compassion:
A majority of states and the federal government do not tax families living in poverty. Fourteen states not only avoid taxing poor families, but also offer tax credits that provide refunds to families with incomes at the poverty line. These credits offset additional state taxes, including the general revenue sales tax. This helps support families’ work efforts and reduces poverty.
But in Missouri, we agree with Marie: let them eat cake.