New Case Studies Offer Insight into Effective EITC Advocacy

Over the last several years, advocates have worked hard to protect and expand current state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) or to create new ones. To assist with these efforts, Tax Credits for Working Families has released our latest series of case studies of recent EITC campaigns.

The latest studies include Maryland and Washington D.C., where legislators expanded the state EITC shortly after increasing the minimum wage and Ohio, where advocates succeeded in doubling the value of the EITC from 5 to 10 percent, though the credit still remains nonrefundable.

Some of the elements found to be common to these effective campaigns include:

  • Coalitions that convene regularly throughout the legislative session
  • Well-thought-out strategies with clearly identified advocacy targets
  • Clear and consistent messaging and monitoring of messaging to gauge effectiveness
  • The use of data to quantify how many people will benefit from an EITC expansion
  • Putting an appealing face to the credit: introducing legislators to people who receive the EITC, or telling their stories

Unlike earlier years when more threats arose to eliminate or reduce state EITCs, our three new case studies highlight efforts to pass an EITC increase through relatively supportive legislatures. That meant deploying a different set of communications strategies: Rather than messaging an EITC reduction as a tax increase on lower-income workers, advocates framed an increased EITC as a tool to offset regressive taxes. Rather than quantifying how many people could be harmed by an EITC reduction, advocates showed how many people could benefit from an increased EITC. And rather than rapid response to an unexpected threat, advocates built multi-year campaigns to create a sense of urgency behind an increased EITC.

These case studies make it clear that successful efforts by coalitions were due to thoughtful strategies carefully implemented. We hope that each story offers advocates in other states a wealth of guidance as they implement their own EITC campaigns.