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Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel and Director of Income Support Policy

Julie Vogtman

Julie Vogtman is Director of Income Support Policy and Senior Counsel for the Family Economic Security Program at the National Women's Law Center. She works on a range of issues involving economic support for low-income women and their families, including minimum wage policies, unemployment benefits, and child care assistance. She also contributes to the Center’s work on federal budget and tax policies. Prior to joining the Center in 2010, Ms. Vogtman was an associate with Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of Furman University and Georgetown University Law Center.

My Take

Minimum Wage Increase Passed in Connecticut, but Not for Tipped Workers; California, Massachusetts Considering Stronger Measures

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel and Director of Income Support Policy | Posted on: June 04, 2013 at 12:10 pm

It’s the first week in June: temperatures are rising, the cicadas are swarming, and many state legislatures are wrapping up their 2013 sessions. This flurry of legislative activity has included several important steps forward on the minimum wage.

The biggest news comes from Connecticut, where last week the legislature passed – and the governor signed – a bill to increase the state minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.00 per hour by January 1, 2015. This compromise measure will give a much-needed raise to minimum wage workers in Connecticut, about six in ten of whom are women. An additional 75 cents per hour amounts to $1,500 a year for full-time work, bringing annual wages up from $16,500 to $18,000. That’s a meaningful boost, but still about $500 short of lifting a family of three above the poverty line, much less what is needed in a high-cost state like Connecticut.

And there is a catch: Connecticut’s new law actually reduces the percentage of the minimum wage that employers must pay to workers who receive tips. Today, tipped workers like restaurant servers are entitled to a minimum cash wage that is 69 percent of Connecticut’s full minimum wage ($5.69 per hour). In 2015, when the regular minimum wage is $9.00 instead of $8.25 per hour, tipped workers will be entitled to a minimum cash wage that is 63.2 percent of the full minimum wage ($5.69 per hour) – that is, they will get no raise at all. While most of Connecticut’s minimum wage workers who will get a raise are women, women are also a majority of the tipped workers who will suffer from this unfair exclusion.

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Apple is a Tax Dodger. Blame the Tax Code.

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel and Director of Income Support Policy | Posted on: May 21, 2013 at 01:25 pm

This morning, a Senate subcommittee is holding a hearing on "Offshore Profit Shifting and the U.S. Tax Code," which will include testimony from Apple CEO Tim Cook, as well as Apple's CFO and Head of Tax Operations. 

You might ask why Apple is the subject of this congressional scrutiny; after all, Apple did pay about $6 billion in taxes in the U.S. last year on its American operations, which is more than some major corporations that managed to avoid paying any federal income tax at all. But as Senator John McCain observed, while "Apple claims to be the largest U.S. corporate taxpayer... by sheer size and scale, it is also among America's largest tax avoiders." 

Specifically, a new report from congressional investigators concludes that Apple used a web of offshore tax shelters to avoid paying billions in taxes to the United States and other countries. The investigators found that Apple's tax avoidance strategies shielded at least $74 billion from the Internal Revenue Service between 2009 and 2012. By officially locating subsidiaries in places like Ireland while managing them from company headquarters in California, Apple was able to, in effect, make the subsidiaries "stateless" — so they were exempt from taxes anywhere in the world. In its own analysis of Apple's financial reports, Citizens for Tax Justice found that "Apple has paid almost no income taxes to any country on its $102 billion in offshore cash holdings." 

Pretty sneaky, right? But that doesn't mean it's illegal. The U.S. tax code makes it awfully easy for Apple and other giant corporations to avoid paying taxes.

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Two Minimum Wage Bills Pass in Minnesota

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel and Director of Income Support Policy | Posted on: May 13, 2013 at 11:26 am

I’ve got to hand it to Minnesota’s legislature. In addition to last week’s House vote to legalize same-sex marriage (with the Senate expected to follow suit today), the House and Senate have now each passed a bill to raise the state minimum wage!

This is especially good news for women, who make up 70 percent of Minnesota’s minimum wage workers. Raising the minimum wage would improve economic security for thousands of women while boosting the state’s economy – and it could help narrow the gender wage gap because women are the majority of workers who would benefit. In Minnesota in 2011, the typical woman working full time, year round was paid just under 80 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart.

But here’s the catch: the bills passed by the two chambers are quite different from one another. The House bill would raise the state minimum wage to $9.50 per hour by 2015, then index it annually to keep up with inflation. (Minnesota’s current minimum wage is actually only $6.15 per hour, but because federal minimum wage law prevails, most workers are entitled to a minimum of $7.25 per hour.) The Senate bill would raise the minimum wage to just $7.75 per hour by 2015, with no inflation adjustment.

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Who Pays on Tax Day?

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel and Director of Income Support Policy | Posted on: April 15, 2013 at 02:42 pm

In my first Tax Day blog post, I focused on one really unfair aspect of our tax code: the wealthiest Americans often benefit more from all sorts of deductions and exclusions than middle-income taxpayers do.

But the super-rich aren’t the only ones who might be getting a better deal from the tax code than you. If you paid even a dollar of federal income tax last year, you paid more than Facebook did. And more than FedEx. And more than Southwest Airlines. Every year, these and many other large, profitable corporations manage to take advantage of loopholes and special preferences in the tax code to avoid paying their fair share of taxes; in fact, these companies often end up with a big tax rebate. Today, Citizens for Tax Justice is calling out these tax dodgers, making the rounds in D.C. with a giant mobile billboard:

CTJ's mobile billboard

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What Do Extra Tax Breaks for the Rich Cost Women & Families? A Lot.

Posted by Julie Vogtman, Senior Counsel and Director of Income Support Policy | Posted on: April 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Happy Tax Day, everyone! When it’s time to pay my taxes, I try hard to focus on all of the important programs and services those dollars support. (You can see exactly how your own federal income taxes are spent using this nifty Tax Receipt from the National Priorities Project.)

But I have to admit – I’m also thinking about the people who make a whole lot more money than I do and get a better deal from the tax code. The fact is, super-rich taxpayers currently benefit much more than ordinary taxpayers like me from many federal income tax deductions and exclusions. For example, for a wealthy taxpayer in the top tax bracket (39.6 percent) who pays $10,000 in mortgage interest, the mortgage interest deduction is worth $3,960. For a middle-income taxpayer in the 15 percent tax bracket who pays the same $10,000 in mortgage interest, the deduction is worth only $1,500.

It’s time for the richest Americans to pay their fair share

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