The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual data on income, poverty and health insurance coverage this week. For the second consecutive year, the national poverty rate declined and the well-being of America’s most economically vulnerable has generally improved. In 2016, the year of the latest available data, 40.6 million (or nearly 1 in 8) Americans were living in poverty.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) both boost the economic security of working families. ITEP’s federal research in this area examines how these tax credits affect working people’s incomes. Its analyses also examine proposed changes to these programs and outlines the effect changes would have on workers and their families.
Astonishingly, tax policies in virtually every state make it harder for those living in poverty to make ends meet. When all the taxes imposed by state and local governments are taken into account, every state imposes higher effective tax rates on poor families than on the richest taxpayers.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a policy designed to bolster the earnings of low-wage workers and offset some of the taxes they pay, providing the opportunity for struggling families to step up and out of poverty toward meaningful economic security. The federal EITC has kept millions of Americans out of poverty since its enactment in the mid-1970s. Over the past several decades, the effectiveness of the EITC has been magnified as many states have enacted and later expanded their own credits.