On April 15, Education Advocates Thanked Taxpayers

On April 15, Education Advocates Thanked Taxpayers

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SAN FRANCISCO--On April 15, education reform advocates around the country had a message for taxpayers: Thank you!

The Alliance for Educational Justice, a newly formed national organization headquartered in Oakland, staged rallies at post offices throughout the country to thank city residents for paying their taxes and supporting nonprofit groups campaigning for change in the country's educational system.

While April 15 is Tax Day and a time many Americans dread, the Alliance called it as Invest in Education National Tax Day, a time to promote investment in public education. The take-home message was: invest tax dollars in our schools.

“The taxpayers are our lifesavers,” said MK Nguyen, the Campus Organizer for Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth (CACY), a nonprofit San Francisco group and Alliance member that works to improve the lives of low-income San Francisco families.

Nguyen joined other CACY organizers and members to thank city residents for paying the taxes that fund education and to tell them about progressive measures to reform San Francisco's tax system. CACY campaigners handed out Life Saver candies and educational material.

Similar rallies took place at post offices in a dozen U.S. cities, including Boston, Denver, New York, Wichita and Philadelphia.

In San Francisco, their message included criticism of Proposition 13, the law passed in 1978 that limits property tax increases for homeowners and commercial real estate. Prop. 13 and other state legislation have “enabled corporations and commercial real estate owners to avoid paying their fare share of taxes,” said NTanya Lee, executive director of CACY.

Working families and low-income people are pressured to pay higher taxes, Lee said, but “with our local tax structure, working people end up paying more than corporations.”

Revenue for All, a coalition of labor unions, neighborhood groups and other grassroots organizations, joined the tax day event here. the coalition is pushing for “progressive tax measures” to be placed on the November ballot, which include “taxing various forms of wealth—large corporations and property transfers,” said communications director Christopher Cook. He called the state’s current tax system regressive because it hits lower income people harder than more affluent residents. Cook said the solution is a progressive taxation system that is proportionate to one’s wealth.

Tax day was also the occasion for rallies by the conservative tea party organizations around the country, who had a different, anti-tax message. Cook said that “anti-tax rhetoric is ignorant. Taxpayers are the glue that holds us together. Our city needs reform whether they realize it or not.”