The government didn’t shut down—although it came very close–and Congress agreed to fund most agencies through the end of Fiscal Year 2015. A few programs, including the Child Care and Development Block Grant, received modest increases. But most domestic programs face freezes or cuts in FY 2015—on top of years of cuts in programs vital to women and their families—and even deeper cuts in FY 2016.
House-passed bills to give corporations hundreds of billions of dollars in permanent tax breaks did not make it through the Senate. But as its final act, Congress revived $42 billion in expired, mostly corporate tax breaks for one year without offsetting the cost. In contrast, House leaders blocked action on a $10 billion, fully paid-for bill to restore emergency unemployment insurance benefits for long-term jobless women and men [PDF]. And Congress didn’t make permanent the 2009 improvements in tax credits for working families, two-thirds of the benefits of which go to women and their families.
Millions of Americans received Premium Tax Credits that helped them purchase health insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplace. But a case pending in the Supreme Court, King v. Burwell, challenges the availability of premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions for people living in the majority of states that rely on the federal government to manage their Health Insurance Marketplaces.
The Obama Administration issued new regulations to discourage corporate inversions—a strategy that some large U.S. multinationals use to avoid U.S. taxes by merging with a smaller foreign firm to pretend they are a foreign corporation. But administrative action can only address part of this problem, and Congress has failed to act to stop inversions; indeed, Congress failed to pass any bills to close corporate tax loopholes.
Several states made improvements to existing family tax credits—including modest increases in the Earned Income Tax Credit in Oregon and Ohio, and a new Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for low-income families in Colorado. Unfortunately the news was not so good for families in other states. North Carolina earned the “dubious distinction” of being the only state ever to repeal its Earned Income Tax Credit, and also did away with its Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit—raising taxes on almost a million lower-income families [PDF] in 2015 and beyond.