Christian group urges churchgoers to pray for tax cuts for the poor

Bread for the World, a Christian nonprofit organization, is calling on congregations to pray for tax breaks helping low-income taxpayers.

The group is asking those attending services to observe the Sunday following Easter as “Tax Day.”

“The Sunday after Easter is historically one of the most difficult for pastors and worship leaders to plan,” said Rev. Gary Cook, the organization’s director of church relations, in prepared remarks.

“They are faced with trying to continue to make good news that Christ is risen real for their congregations at a time when the congregation’s energy is drained from all the activities of Holy Week.”

The group has also deemed April 14, the day before tax forms are due to the IRS, as “Tax Day.”

Bread for the World supports the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit.

The measures have helped lift million taxpayers above the poverty line. The group seeks to modify the provisions to better address the country’s growing poverty problem created by high unemployment figures that have yet to subside.

“One of the best ways to reduce hunger and poverty in the United States is by protecting and strengthening key tax credits that benefit low-income working families,” the organization states in a release.

The Child Tax Credit enjoys broad, bipartisan support, but the ETIC has several detractors.

Many say the measure is abused by illegal immigrants as well as couples who are separated but both claim the tax’s full deduction for dependents.

Bread for the World has complied an online resource for pastors to help them promote the EITC and the Child Tax Credit.

“We created these resources to give pastors help in planning their sermons and worship,” Cook said.

The site offers pastors suggestions on how to incorporate taxes into their sermons. One example provided is the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), when Jesus took on a tax collector.

“When the tax system meets Jesus, good things happen for poor people,” Cook said.

Churches observing “Tax Day” will be better prepared for the organization’s 2010 Offering of Letters, which seeks changes in tax policies for poorer taxpayers.

During an Offering of Letters, churchgoers write letters to Congress supporting legislation that helps low-income taxpayers and place them in the offering plate.

The organization’s website provides tips for churchgoers that contact lawmakers urging them to provide greater tax relief. Worshipers are instructed to “ask for specific action” when speaking with a lawmaker’s office and are provided examples on what to say.

The site also has prayer suggestions for people completing their tax forms.

One prayer begins: “Gracious God, all that we have is a gift from you, including this country in which we live. As April 15 approaches, help us see our reporting to the Internal Revenue Service as a reminder of our interdependence.”