The Earned Income Tax Credit Is a Critical Anti-Poverty Program

This post was written by the National Community Tax Coalition and first appeared on their WorkForward blog. We are cross-posting with their permission.

As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, national policy and advocacy groups gathered Thursday to discuss the success of the EITC as an effective anti-poverty measure at a congressional briefing. The panel also focused on how the credit benefits women and children, as the growth in women’s employment tends to be in low-wage jobs with few, if any, benefits.

This briefing was in coordination with National EITC Awareness Day, a day designated by the IRS to call attention to the tax credit, and to ensure that people who qualify claim it. The EITC is widely acclaimed as one of the nation’s most effective anti-poverty policies, keeping approximately 6.6 million Americans – about half of them children – out of poverty each year.

“Households eligible for the EITC are hardworking families. They pay a significant amount in a variety of local, state, and federal taxes,” said Tracy Fischman, Board Member of the National Community Tax Coalition, and Executive Director of AccountAbility Minnesota, an organization that provides volunteer-based tax preparation and financial services to low-income families. “People who work full time should be able to support their families and stay out of poverty. The EITC is essential to ensuring that people who work are able to make ends meet.”

The EITC provides a vital support for many women who are held back by low-wage jobs with few benefits. “The majority of working women are still segregated into a limited number of low-paying occupations. As a result, the EITC is critical to millions of women’s efforts to escape the shadow of poverty and move toward economic security,” said Shawn McMahon, Acting President and CEO of Wider Opportunities for Women.

“Extensive research shows that the EITC makes work pay for low-income working women, especially for single mothers.  It lifts millions of women and their families out of poverty every year, and the income boost it provides has been shown to improve health and education outcomes for low-income children,” noted Amy Matsui, Senior Counsel for the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).

Other speakers included Hans Riemer, Montgomery County, MD County Councilmember; R. Camille Henry, an EITC recipient from Montgomery County, MD; and Pamela Luckett, a Community Action Board member who supports Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) through the Department of Health and Human Services Community Action Agency in Montgomery County, MD.   VITA’s free, volunteer-assisted tax preparation for low- and moderate-income, working families helps thousands of families obtain EITC help.

In addition to NCTC, WOW, and NWLC, Thursday’s Hill briefing was co-sponsored by:

  • Center on Budget & Policy Priorities
  • Center for Law and Social Policy
  • Coalition on Human Needs
  • Community Action Partnership
  • Doorways to Dreams Fund
  • Goodwill Industries International
  • Half in Ten
  • National Council of La Raza
  • National Disability Institute
  • National Immigration Law Center
  • Tax Credits for Working Families
  • United Way Worldwide