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Economic Opportunity for All Campaign Basic necessities consume a larger portion of income for low-income individuals and families than those earning higher incomes

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Economic Opportunity for All Campaign

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tax policies can reduce poverty and create economic opportunity
Basic necessities consume a larger portion of income for low-income individuals and families than those earning higher incomes

Progressive tax policy can and should help people with lower incomes keep more of what they earn and provide incentives to earn more so as to help them lift themselves out of poverty

Low-income tax credits help increase income

Earned Income Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit

Promoting savings helps by giving people an incentive to try and build assets

Saver’s Bonus

Individual Development Accounts

Tax Policies Can Reduce Poverty and Create Economic Opportunity

RESULTS’ Economic Opportunity Campaign

  • Promote expansions of low-income tax credits that increase income and lift people out of poverty
    • Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for individuals and families
    • Expand the Child Tax Credit so all low-income families can benefit
  • Promote low-income savings through programs like the Savers Bonus
  • These policies tend to have bipartisan support because they:
    • Support lifting people out of poverty
    • Encourage work
    • Promote personal responsibility
the earned income tax credit

Designed to offset payroll taxes and “reward work” for those in low-income jobs (began in 1975)

  • Largest poverty reduction program in the U.S.
    • In 2009, the EITC lifted 6.6 million peopleout of poverty
      • 3.3 million were children
      • Without the EITC, the poverty rate among children would have been one-third higher
      • Lifts more children out of poverty than any other program
  • Sliding scale of eligibility
    • Eligibility based on earned income
    • Amount based on income, marital status, family size
  • Refundable Credit = tax filer gets a refund if credit is larger than tax liability, even if liability is $0

The Earned Income Tax Credit

recent improvements to the eitc

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

    • RESULTS and our allies pushed for EITC improvements in the economic recovery bill
    • Married couples can now earn more income before the EITC phases out, which reduces the “marriage penalty”
      • Before ARRA, a single low-income worker would lose all or part of the EITC if he/she married another low-income worker
    • Families with 3 or more children may now receive an EITC up to 45% percent of their income
      • Before ARRA, cap was 40%, same as 2-children families
    • ARRA expands the EITC for 2009 and 2010

Recent Improvements to the EITC

arra improvements to eitc
ARRA Improvements to EITC

Source: Center for Budget & Policy Priorities

Without ARRA, the increased EITC for families with three or more children would not exist. Also, the incomes where the EITC “phases out” (i.e. decreases) for married couples filing a join tax return would be lower. These changes ensure that many low-income families will get a higher EITC and more incentive to find and maintain work.

eitc improvements still needed

Increase the EITC for persons without children (or children in the household)

    • 2008 maximum credit for HH with 2 kids = $5028
    • 2008 maximum credit for adult with no kids = $457
    • Many non-custodial parents fall into this category, making it more difficult to meet child support obligations
  • Make the EITC improvements in the ARRA for married couples and large families permanent
    • Under current law, they will expire in 2011

EITC Improvements Still Needed

the child tax credit

Tax credit designed to offset expenses of raising a child

  • Allows for maximum tax credit of $1,000 per child
  • Based on income
    • Phases out at $75K for single parents, $110K for married parents
  • Must earn a minimum income to be eligible
  • Partially refundable
    • Unlike EITC, CTC is not fully refundable
    • If credit exceeds tax liability, tax filer gets the lesser of:
      • Remaining credit, OR
      • 15% of income above the minimum income threshold

The Child Tax Credit

problems with the ctc

Threshold for eligibility

    • A family must earn a minimum income to be eligible for the CTC (around $12,000 in 2007)
      • Anyone below the threshold is deemed “too poor” to qualify
    • Threshold has been also indexed to inflation, so it rises each year
      • Incomes don’t necessarily rise each year (think minimum wage workers) or do not rise at the rate of inflation
      • Makes CTC unavailable for more low-income families each year and it reduces the credit for others (remember, credit is based on income above the eligibility threshold)
  • Not fully refundable
    • Limits refund for low-income families

Problems with the CTC

recent ctc improvements

Wall Street Bailout Legislation (October 2008)

    • RESULTS and our allies lobbied in 2008 to get the CTC threshold lowered
    • In October 2008, Congress lowered the CTC threshold from $12,050 to $8,500 (applies to 2008 returns only)
    • 13 million children benefited
      • 3 million new kids qualify, 10 million get a larger refund
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (February 2009)
    • Building on the momentum created in 2008, RESULTS and our allies pushed for an even lower threshold
    • Congress lowered threshold from $8,500 to $3,000 for 2009 and 2010
      • Another 13 million children will benefit in 2009 and 2010

Recent CTC Improvements

improvements still needed to ctc

Lower the income threshold to $0 and eliminate inflation adjustments

    • Allows all low-income families to participate
    • If Congress will not lower the threshold any further, at very least make the $3,000 limit permanent and eliminate indexing
  • Make the Child Tax Credit fully refundable
    • Would simplify CTC and increase the refund amount for low-income families
      • At the $3,000 threshold, a family must earn at least $9,667 to receive the full $1,000 CTC as a refund. This means that families below $9,667 get a smaller refund than those at or slightly above that income
      • If made fully refundable, the lowest income families would receive the full credit as a refund

Improvements Still Needed to CTC

2010 ctc legislative developments

2010 CTC Legislative Developments

  • Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010 (H.R. 2847) passed by House in December 2009
    • Includes a refundable CTC available to families starting with their first dollar of earnings
    • At a cost of $2.3 billion, removes the $3,000 floor for 2010, cuts taxes for 16 million families, and makes the CTC available to all low-income working families with children in 2010
    • Also provides that such increases in refunds do not count in determining eligibility or benefits for federal or federal/state programs such as SNAP (food stamps) or TANF
  • Senate Should Take Up in Early 2010
building savings and assets

Creating savings and wealth is the clearest pathway out of poverty

  • Other non-tangible benefits
    • Improved household stability: Major illness, job loss, or marital breakup can lead to sudden income shortfalls. A stock of assets helps to bridge these periods of financial need, reducing the chances of disorder in the household.
    • An orientation toward the future: When people are secure in the present, they tend to look toward the future. There is considerable evidence that people who own assets are, by and large, more optimistic about their ability to succeed.
    • Enhanced welfare of offspring: Given that parents pass on their wealth to their children, an effective asset-based policy for the poor could effectively reduce intergenerational poverty.

Building Savings and Assets

asset building strategies

Saver’s Bonus

    • Low-income tax filer agrees to invest refund into a product (savings account, U.S. savings bond) right from their tax return
    • Portion of savings is matched by the government
    • Can use matched savings for certain things like education, home purchase, start business, retirement
    • The key to the SB is that it uses an existing process (tax returns) to administer the benefit, which can increase participation and reduces administrative costs
  • Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)
    • Similar to Saver’s Bonus, except person opens account on their own, not via tax return
    • Includes financial literacy training
    • Matched portion again limited to certain things like buying a home, starting a business, education, retirement

Asset Building Strategies

tax credit and asset building bills in congress

Tax Credit and Asset Building Bills in Congress

S. 22/H.R. 536: Strengthen the EITC Act

Makes EITC changes from the ARRA permanent (expanded EITC for married couples and larger families)

S. 985/H.R. 2277: Savings for Working Families Act

Expands IDA program and financial literacy training

Could allow up to 2.7 million people to participate in IDA programs

S. 722: Taxpayer Certainty and Relief Act of 2009

Makes the EITC expansion for married couples and large families permanent; make $3,000 CTC threshold permanent

Currently, none of these bills are moving forward in Congress. However, tax reform is anticipated to be a high priority in 2010. This is the year that the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts are set to expire. It is very important that any tax reform enacted include changes to the tax code that benefit low-income individuals and families.


Low-Income Tax Credits Laser Talk

  • Engage: In 2009, the EITC lifted over 6 million people out of poverty, half of them children.
  • Problem: Low-income tax credits are a way to help lift and keep people out of poverty. Unfortunately, many low-income people are short-changed by the way the tax code is currently written.
low income tax credits laser talk

Inform: First, low-income single workers without children receive such a low EITC, some end up paying a large tax bill even after receiving the credit. Also, recent expansions to the EITC and Child Tax Credit that have helped millions of low-income families are only temporary. For example, 26 million low-income children and their families will lose all or part of their Child Tax Credit in 2011 under current law. The CTC also still remains unavailable for America’s poorest families.

Low-Income Tax Credits Laser Talk


Low-Income Tax Credits Laser Talk

  • Call to Action:Will you speak with Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus and ranking member Charles Grassley/ House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel and ranking member Dave Camp, urging them to:
    • Make the recent EITC changes for married couples and large families permanent
    • Triple the EITC for single workers without children, and
    • Lower the Child Tax Credit income threshold to zero and make it fully refundable (or at the very least, make the current $3,000 threshold permanent)?
economic opportunity resources


  • Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • National Community Tax Coalition
  • Center for Economic Progress
  • Center for Tax Justice
  • Tax Policy Center
  • Coalition on Human Needs
  • Corporation for Economic Development
  • New America Foundation’s Asset Building Project

Economic Opportunity Resources


RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund 750 First St NE, Ste 1040Washington DC 20002RESULTS Economic Opportunity Campaign Contacts:Meredith Dodson,, (202) 782-7100, x116Jos Linn,, (515) 288-3622Alan Gold,, (202) 783-7100, x106