Rubio White House Run Brings Tax Reform Center Stage

By Kate Skochdopole

Sen. Mark Rubio (R-Fl.) made clear his bid for the White House today, and is considered to be one of the strongest GOP presidential candidates for 2016. Like his colleague Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who announced his candidacy last week, Sen. Rubio has a historically rocky relationship with tax credits for working families.

During his time in the Senate, Rubio has sponsored several bills to reform the tax code. These plans have left tax advocates split on whether Rubio’s intent is to improve the structure of the safety net or radically diminish it. His most recent plan, “The Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Credit”co-sponsored by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), would create a second flat-rate Child Tax Credit (CTC) and collapse the eight tax brackets into two. Rubio and Lee are tightlipped on how their plan could affect the future of existing tax credits, but it is clear that this plan would allow vital provisions of the CTC and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to expire beginning in 2018, pushing millions of working-poor families deeper into poverty.

Even with the new Rubio-Lee credit, Tax Policy Center analysis of a similar bill shows families making between $20,000 and $30,000 could lose more than $700 each year if these provisions are allowed to expire. In addition, the new CTC would not be fully refundable, limiting the credit for those earning the least.

Sunday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also announced her candidacy for president. Clinton has remained relatively silent on tax credits for working families in recent years, but called for an expansion of the EITC during her time as a U.S. Senator from 2001 until 2009 and as a presidential candidate in 2007 and 2008. It is unlikely she would pose any threat to the credit if elected in 2016.

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