Scholars from Left, Right and Center Call for Expansion of Tax Credits for Low-Income Families

By Kate Skochdopole

As Congress struggles to come up with bipartisan solutions to address poverty and promote economic opportunity, a group of experts from across the political spectrum came together this week to introduce its own consensus plan. A significant focus of that plan was expansion of tax credits for low-income families.

The Working Group on Poverty, which was brought together by the Brookings Institution and American Enterprise Institute (AEI), released a comprehensive report that outlined the state of poverty in America and proposed a range of solutions, including a broader approach to poverty that builds on the success of tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). The report — Opportunity, Responsibility, and Security: A Consensus Plan for Reducing Poverty and Restoring the American Dream –proposes expanding tax credits to help more struggling individuals, including doubling the EITC for childless workers.

“Improving the federal EITC so that it is more generous to low-income childless adults and non-custodial parents should be a priority not only to reverse declines in earnings and labor force participation, but to promote family stability as well,” wrote the authors. This plan already has bipartisan support from House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Obama.

The report’s authors, who range from Robert Doar at AEI to Judith Gueron at MDRC, argue that both parties should be able to find common ground on tax credits as a way to address poverty and promote opportunity. Their work should serve as a framework and inspiration to Congress as it weighs protecting the EITC and CTC from expiring provisions and expanding the credits further.