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Poverty: Greening the Tax and Transfer System to Create More Opportunities

April 2009

Citation: ELR 10303

Author: Jonathan Barry Forman

Editor's Summary

Poor families and individuals bear a disproportionately larger share of the burdens of pollution than the wealthy. In the United States, the poor are more likely to live near hazardous wastes and toxic products, making them more likely to suffer disability, illness, or even death caused by contaminated water, air, or soil. Revision of the U.S. tax and transfer system could both reduce poverty and promote sustainability, thus leading to healthier communities around the country. To achieve these revisions, government should reform the current welfare framework and replace it with a system of refundable tax credits. These credits could then be used to distribute rebates of environmentally sensible polluter taxes, thereby reducing tax burdens on low- and middle-income families.

Jonathan Barry Forman is the Alfred P. Murrah Professor of Law at the University of Oklahoma.

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