I recently became aware of some legislation proposed by Senator Kamala Harris. It’s called the Rent Relief Act of 2018. It’s intent is to provide a tax credit to assist people struggling to pay their rent. The tax credit amount is up to 30% of their gross income.
First let me say, I applaud the intent, which is to help people in need. And I appreciate the recognition a problem which seems to be growing, the struggle of people to keep a roof over their head and that of their family.
With that said, I have read the text of the act as proposed. I always try to read the text of any legislation I comment on. It is the responsible thing to do. Given the influence of the media, mainstream and otherwise, as well as social media, and other bad actors taking advantage of the incredible reach of the internet in today’s world, actually reading the text of proposed legislation is the only responsible way to consider any potential law that will affect the entire citizenry, the people, of our country.
According to Senator Harris’ website you can find the text here: https://www.harris.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/OTT182191.7.19.pdf. As of today, August 27, 2018, this is the PDF that I downloaded and read: Rent Relief Act of 2018.
There are many thoughts and questions that occur to me when reading this act. A big piece of information that is particularly important to the consideration of ANY legislation of this type is the financial impact. Other than the percentage of income that will result in the size of the tax credit for any individual or household, there is no financial impact or other information included in this act.
There are two questions that I feel are fundamental and need to be answered before any other aspects are relevant.
- In dollars, how much benefit is expected to be provided? What is the expected cost of providing this benefit?
- Whenever there is a tax credit the overall tax revenue goes down. This creates a shortfall in the budget. How will this shortfall be addressed? In other words, how will the Rent Relief Act be paid for?
By asking these initial questions I am not trying to be difficult. However, when attempting to relieve the burden of one segment of the people, we MUST be cognizant of where and how that burden gets shifted to others!
Failing to consider the impact of our actions on others is simply irresponsible and unfair.
There is more work I intend to do so that I may better understand how this act will work. I will update this post when I learn more.