Estefania Mondragon: It’s time to center working families in tax policy


By Estefania Mondragon

Familia (family) is central to Mexican culture and many Latin American cultures; it is also central to our shared Idaho values. Our families help us through difficult times financially and emotionally. Idaho families are raising the future leaders of our state, and we as Idahoans have a real stake in their well-being.

A tax cut bill making its way through the Legislature would give most Idahoans only a one-time rebate of $75 per person, or $300 for a family of four, according to the Idaho Press. Many Idahoans would miss out on the most significant benefits of the bill, because those benefits only affect corporations and the very wealthy. But when it comes to tax relief this year, leaders can — and should — do more to allow thousands of hard-working but modestly earning Idaho families to keep more of what they earn. they win.

The cost of living in Idaho shows no signs of slowing down. It’s harder for working families in Idaho to find and stay in homes, put food on the table, and pay necessary medical bills. These costs weigh heavily on low-income Idaho families. Idaho families of color face additional barriers because a long history of job and income discrimination means they earn less for the same job.

That’s why it’s so important for Idaho lawmakers to pass permanent appropriation for the large group of Idahoans who work hard to get ahead but currently earn modest salaries. It’s called an Idaho working family tax credit. As in other states, the credit would mirror the federal earned income tax credit, which depends on a person’s income. As a person’s income increases, the amount they receive each year from the credit eventually decreases.

This would help our Idaho families who need it most offset the sales tax they pay and keep more of their hard-earned money.

This credit would make a difference for working families. Consider Teresa Garcilazo, who works as a Certified Practical Nurse at Mountain Home. She just had twins, which means she and her fiancé now have four children and continue to face a high cost of living. A few hundred extra dollars a year would make a difference for her family, she said. She wants to spend a little more money each month on car or house payments, or try to pay off her credit card debt.

She’s not alone either. In virtually every community in Idaho, the credit would benefit 332,200 Idahoans, including children. Idahoans would spend the money locally for groceries, car repairs, or other needed services. This stimulates the local economy and helps small businesses to thrive. On top of that, the credit would help keep parents working, as they would have more money for child care. An Idaho working family tax credit isn’t just an investment in our Idaho families and future generations – it’s also an investment in our current local economy. While an Idaho working family tax credit would benefit hundreds of thousands of Idahoans who need it most, it need not be costly for our state.

And we have the extra revenue to do it. If Idaho enacted a working family tax credit of 10% of the federal earned income tax credit, it would mean that our low-income households would receive an average of $256 more per year. That’s a workable total of $35 million.

Our Idaho families are there for us in difficult times. It is time for us as a state to be there for them.

Estefania Mondragon is the daughter of immigrant parents from Tarandacuao, Guanajuato, Mexico, and she is the executive director of PODER from Idaho. She brings awareness, both of her languages, her heart and her imagination to her work. She wholeheartedly believes that change starts from within and is passionate about building power within intersections. She hopes to raise community awareness, change culture, and bring an anti-oppression lens to the conversation.


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