While presidential hopefuls jockey for the White House, our representatives in Congress need to focus on supporting hardworking low- and middle-income families here in Idaho and across the nation.
The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit help Idaho workers keep more of what they earn so that families can make ends meet. Key provisions of these credits — vital to the household budgets of so many in our state — are set to expire unless Congress takes action.
In Idaho, 140,000 Idaho households received the EITC in 2012, putting about $308 million into Idaho’s economy. The Child Tax Credit, up to $1,000, helps offset the costs of raising children. Our friends, families and neighbors use this money to buy crucial necessities, such as food to feed their children or reliable transportation to get to work, stimulating our economy.
It’s imperative that U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson take advantage of any window to save the current version of the credits. Without action, 67,000 Idaho families, including 117,000 children, will lose all or part of their credits, including 35,000 rural families and 9,000 military or veteran families. This amounts to a tax hike on low- and modest-income workers and will mean $64 million less in the pockets of Idaho workers, and in turn, local businesses. We can’t have that.
The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit both promote and reward work, lowering dependence on public assistance. Since the 1970s, the Earned Income Tax Credit has helped hardworking families stay above the federal poverty line. The EITC has lifted millions out of poverty, including thousands of Idaho families and children.
When we lift people out of poverty, everybody wins. Research shows that additional household income from tax credits leads to improved family well-being, which leads to children performing better in school. Children who reach proficient reading levels at early ages have a significant impact on the economy, as they are less likely to drop out while in high school and more likely to continue their education after graduation.
Congress must address this issue and make the current version of these tax credits permanent for working individuals and families.
Nora Carpenter is the president and CEO of United Way of Treasure Valley.