What the EITC means for children


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January 31, 2013

A message from Michael Petit, President, Every Child Matters Education Fund:

Did you know that In 2010, the EITC lifted about 6.3 million people out of poverty, including about 3.3 million children? The poverty rate among children would have been nearly one-quarter higher without the EITC. The EITC lifts more children out of poverty than any other program.

According to the IRS, “…workers eligible for EITC, Earned Income Tax Credit, can receive up to $5,891 by claiming the credit on their 2012 Federal tax returns. They can receive even more if they live in a state with a similar credit.”

The EITC reduces poverty by supplementing the earnings of workers with low wages and low earnings. There has been broad bipartisan agreement that a two-parent family with two children with a full-time, minimum-wage worker should not have to raise its children in poverty. At the federal minimum wage’s current level, such a family can move above the poverty line for an average family of four only if it receives the EITC as well as SNAP (food stamp) benefits.

The IRS wants those eligible to get their “Earned Income Tax Credit” (EITC) and is urging communities to spread the word. In addition to lifting families out of poverty, the EITC is good for our local economies.

For young children, moving out of poverty is particularly important. Research has found that lifting income in early childhood not only tends to improve a child’s immediate educational outcomes, but also is associated with more schooling, more hours worked, and higher earnings in adulthood. One such study showed a link between an increase in the EITC for families with more than two children and an increase in achievement in middle childhood for children in these families.

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