The Earned Income Tax Credit: 13 for '13

IMG_1982Top reasons working families should claim the EITC in 2013 – and that policymakers should protect and strengthen it

Article written by the National Community Tax Coalition

The federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) represented nearly $60.7 billion in help for almost 26.5 million low- and moderate-income, working households in 2012. But about one in five EITC-eligible taxpayers fails to claim the credit, missing-out on valuable assistance in covering their families’ most fundamental expenses. Below are 13 of the many reasons that families should ensure they obtain the EITC for which they qualify – reasons that also illustrate the significance of policy efforts to maintain and strengthen this crucial tax credit.

Recently, Congress voted to retain key improvements in the EITC and other key tax credits for working families, but only through 2017. Congress must continue to prioritize these credits throughout federal tax-policy discussions in 2013 and beyond. Similarly, state governors and legislators should support families’ well-being in their own, state-level policy discussions – protecting and improving such credits in states that already have adopted their own versions of the federal EITC, and creating such state credits where they do not yet exist.

It’s important to remember that the EITC:

1. Reflects hard work. The credit is available only to taxpayers who work and have earned income.

2. Helps families to cover their basics. Groceries, rent, and utility bills are common uses for families’ EITC dollars. Another frequently-cited expense: car repairs, to help family breadwinners with the transportation necessary to get to and maintain their jobs.

3. Is particularly important to households with children. The amount of the credit is greater for families who incur the added expenses of raising kids. And this EITC assistance was responsible for keeping an average of 3.1 million children out of poverty annually from 2009-2011.

4. Is typically needed for only temporary stretches of time. Families only use the credit until they can get back on their feet. Indeed, among EITC filers studied between 1989 and 2006: 42 percent claimed the credit for only one year at a time, 19 percent retained it for two straight years, and only about one in five kept the credit for five or more consecutive years.

5. Helps struggling families who already pay a significant amount in federal taxes. In fact, the poorest one-fifth of Americans paid 8.3 percent of their incomes in payroll taxes in 2009, compared with the wealthiest 1 percent of households, who paid only 2.5 percent of their incomes in payroll taxes. And among those Americans who owed no federal income taxes in 2011, about 93 percent were either workers who still owed federal payroll taxes, elderly, not working due to illness or disability, or students.

6. Helps struggling families who also pay a significant amount in state and local taxes. In 2011, the poorest one-fifth of Americans paid 12.3 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes, while the wealthiest 1 percent of households paid only 7.9 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes.

7. Lifts more families out of poverty than any other federal policy. The EITC kept an average of 6.1 million people out of poverty annually from 2009-2011, and reduced the effects of poverty for another 21.2 million people.

8. Strengthens families’ health outcomes. The EITC is associated with decreases in maternal smoking and increases in infants’ birthweights, according to research.

9. Bolsters students’ education outcomes. The EITC is associated with increases in kids’ math and reading test scores, studies show.

10. Boosts the economic strength of local communities. As families spend the money they save through the EITC, small businesses benefit. In fact, studies have shown that one EITC dollar – spent at the local level – generates as much as $1.50 to $2 in economic activity for the area.

11. Is important to rural Americans as well as those living in other areas of the country. In fact, a higher percentage of rural tax-filers claimed the EITC in 2007 than did urban filers.

12. Helps families to begin or improve upon savings. Many families strive to set-aside some of their EITC to work toward long-term goals or to brace for emergencies. One survey found that about 39 percent of households receiving the credit devoted about 15 percent of their EITC refund dollars to savings.

13. Has historically enjoyed bipartisan support. The EITC was designed during the Nixon administration, established during the Ford presidency, and improved by bipartisan majorities of Congress working with Presidents Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama.

Content was produced by the National Community Tax Coalition. For more information, please contact Sean Noble at 312-630-0259 or visit their website at

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

In today’s rundown: A post-election message from the Ms. Foundation on grassroots efforts for change. | And a look at the lack of diversity in the incoming group of members of Congress.

— In the wake of this week’s election, the leadership at the Ms. Foundation writes on their blog “we… encourage you to forgo despair in favor of something much more powerful: a belief in the ability and tenacity of grassroots organizations to engage communities and build momentum — even in the face of the political challenges presently before us.”  Click here to read their full post.

— Congress’s Class of 2010 is far less diverse than the population it represents, reports The Washington Post. Of the more than 100 newly elected lawmakers headed for Capitol Hill, 97 are men and 12 are women.  This is shaping up to be the first election cycle in 32 years in which the number of women in Congress does not increase.

Portrait Project 2010 Fact of the Week

DYK 52 percent copy

Today’s Portrait Project 2010 fact is one of the most mind-blowing statistics you’ll find in the report: the average annual cost of full-time center-based infant care is 52 percent of the median annual income for a single mother with children in the District.

With more than half of a family’s income going to childcare alone, it’s difficult to imagine how families living below the poverty line could hope to improve their circumstances.

On October 14, Washington Area Women’s Foundation will reveal more statistics like this with the release of 2010 Portrait of Women & Girls in the Washington Metropolitan Area.  And we’ll introduce you to the ways organizations right here in our community are working to help these families build better lives.

Portrait Project 2010 will be unveiled at The Women’s Foundation’s 12th annual Leadership Luncheon and Community Briefing. Between now and then, we will be releasing some of the most compelling facts from the report.  Visit our blog frequently for new information.  We’ll also have updates on Facebook, Twitter (using #PortraitProject) and LinkedIn, so be sure to join us there, too.

Click here for previous facts we’ve revealed from Portrait Project 2010.

Photo Credit: Michael Colella at Colella Photography

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region

In today’s rundown: Parents struggle to find child care for their children as subsidies fail to keep up with demand.  |  Prince George’s County teens get access to safe summer programs.  |  An ad campaign reminds local fathers to “take time to be a dad.”

— Federal subsidies for child care are failing to keep up with rising demand, leaving an increasing number of low-income families struggling to balance work and parenting.  Click here to read how this is effecting parents, particularly low-income, single women.

— Later today, teenagers in Prince George’s County will attend Youth Explosion, a program that promotes safe activities and helps teens find summer jobs.  The program is for kids between 12 and 18 and is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Tabernacle Church in Laurel.

— Some local dads say they’re paying attention to parenting messages on bus shelter posters.  The posters say “Take time to be a dad today” and offer suggestions for activities parents and children can do together.  According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, one-third of kids in American grow up in a home without their biological fathers.  Click here to find out why some fathers say the ads are working.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region.

— A new study out this week illustrates the wealth gap faced by women of color in the U.S.  According to the study, black and Hispanic women own one penny for every dollar owned by black and Hispanic men and a fraction of a penny for every dollar owned by white women.  Click here for more details.

— An editorial in today’s Washington Post urges the Justice Department to offer more incentives to states to improve the quality of representation in court for indigent defendants.  Click here for more.

— Today, two D.C. women will be among the first gay couples to legally wed in The District.  Last week, Angelisa Young and Sinjoyla Townsend were the first to apply for a marriage license after D.C. legalized same-sex unions.  Today is the first day that couples can pick up their licenses and legally get married.  Click here for their story.

The Daily Rundown — The Latest News Affecting Women & Girls in Our Region.

— Hundreds of women gathered in Rockville for the Women’s Legislative Briefing.  Up for discussion — legislative proposals that could affect the lives of working women in Maryland.  This year’s priorities will center around mothers in poverty.  Click here to listen to a story about their discussion.

— The economy might be in recovery, but the nonprofit sector is still suffering.  According to the Wall Street Journal, nonprofits around the country continue to be hit with closings and mergers.  The article highlights Women Empowered Against Violence (WEAVE), a Washington Area Women’s Foundation Grantee Partner that was in danger of closing after losing government funding last fall.  Click here for more.

— CNN’s Candy Crowley is the new host of the Sunday morning political program “State of the Union.”  She is the only female anchor on the national Sunday morning news shows, and says this is the first time she’s made a major career move without worrying about balancing her roles as a journalist and parent.  Click here for more.

Got something to say?  Comment below, or join the conversation at

Weekly Round-Up: News and Analysis on Women and Poverty (Week ending September 25, 2009)

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, a national foundation-led initiative, is excited to collaborate with The Women’s Foundation to bring you the latest news and analysis on women and poverty.

Spotlight is the go-to site for news and ideas about fighting poverty.

For daily updates and links to past articles, check out “Women and Poverty.” It’s a new section of our site with a comprehensive collection of recent news and analysis on women and poverty.

Along with these daily updates, continue to visit for our weekly rundown of the top news stories on women and poverty every Friday.

Here’s this week’s news:

• Andrea Castaneda is one of several mothers participating in a Head Start program that seeks to help impoverished families replace unnecessary trips to the emergency room with home care, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

• Deborah Stiell, a 55-year-old low-income grandmother, has cared for her three grandchildren their entire lives. She tells the Detroit News that, like many grandparents in her situation, she struggles to pay the bills.

• The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that thanks to increased state funding, a clinic run by the University of Tennessee College of Medicine’s obstetrics-gynecology department has been able to reach out to more low-income patients, resulting in a 20 to 35 percent increase in patient visits.

• The Boston Globe celebrates the achievements of Elisabetta Mitrano, who lifted her family from poverty by opening a salon that would allow her children a better upbringing than she had.

To learn more about Spotlight visit  

To sign up for our weekly updates with the latest news, opinion and research from around the country, click here

The Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity Team

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity is a foundation-led, non-partisan initiative aimed at ensuring that our political leaders take significant actions to reduce poverty and increase opportunity in the United States. We bring together diverse perspectives from the political, policy, advocacy and foundation communities to engage in an ongoing dialogue focused on finding genuine solutions to the economic hardship confronting millions of Americans.

Rebecca Roberts: Join me and my mom for lunch on October 20th?

As journalists, my mom and I are often considered powerful women.

But we know that true power comes from much more than a job or a public voice. It stems from collective action and dedication to postive change–in ourselves, our families, our community and the world.

And that’s why we’re a part of The Women’s Foundation’s powerful wave of philanthropists helping improve our community through investments in women and girls.

So, we’re thrilled to be serving as this year’s luncheon moderators, along with emcee NBC4 News Co-anchor, Doreen Gentzler, and to help share The Women’s Foundation’s story of how investments in women and girls pay off infinitely in change within our community.

We hope you’ll join us on Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at The Women’s Foundation’s 2009 Leadership Luncheon from noon-2 p.m.

You won’t want to miss our annual community-wide celebration of the powerful women’s philanthropic movement in the Washington metropolitan area!

As always, the Leadership Luncheon will be preceded by the annual Community Briefing, which will feature an update on Stepping Stones–The Women’s Foundation’s groundbreaking initiative that is helping low-income, women-headed families escape poverty and create lives of financial independence and success.

Please join us at the 2009 Leadership Luncheon, where we’ll stand together as a proud community of philanthropists and activists helping to transform our community through investments in women and girls.

Rebecca Roberts is an award winning journalist whose work can be heard on Talk of the Nation, Weekend All Things Considered, and the Kojo Nnamdi Show.  She is also a member of The Women’s Foundation’s Washington 100 and is co-chair of the 1K Club.  Her mother, Cokie, is an award winning journalist, currently serving as a senior news analyst for NPR News and a political commentator for ABC News.  Cokie is also a member of Washington 100.