Many people in our state work at low-paying jobs. Arkansans who work hard for little money pay a much higher share of their income to state and local taxes compared to the wealthiest. That’s not the way it should be. Fortunately, there is a great option for Arkansas (just ask the 29 other states that are already using it!) that can help turn things around for working families. That option is a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit (or EITC). At Arkansas Advocates for Children and families, we are so in love with the Earned Income Tax Credit that we decided to sing about it.
“E is for the way you erase poverty,”
The Earned Income Tax Credit lifts six million people out of poverty every year across the nation. That includes about 3 million kids. It also fights poverty long-term by improving educational outcomes. Kids whose parents have access to this type of credit do better in school and are more likely to pursue higher education.
It might seem like there is hardly anything both sides of the political spectrum can agree on these days, but the EITC has been an exception to that from the beginning (it was enacted at the federal level in 1975). The EITC improves workforce participation and rewards work. Both sides of the aisle agree that it is among the best tools for helping low-income families gain financial security.
“T is very, very, extra temporary,”
EITCs are so good at helping people get back on their feet, that after a couple of years, most people who use them end up earning too much to qualify. Even though people use EITCs to bounce back quickly, kids and families end up better off at every stage of life, even when they aren’t using the credits anymore. The EITC helps new mothers and their babies stay healthy, improves the long-term career prospects for moms, and it is even linked to improved life expectancy.
“C is even more for communities that we adore.”
EITCs help all kinds of working people and their kids. About 32,000 veteran and military families in Arkansas receive the federal EITC or the similar Child Tax Credit, and would benefit from adopting a state EITC. There are also nearly 300,000 kids in our state who would be helped. Rural areas, where low-wage jobs are more common, also have plenty of hard-working people who would be better off with a state EITC. About 143,000 families living in rural areas would qualify for this type of state credit.
So, we L-O-V-E the EITC. Do you? Stay tuned as we prepare for the next legislative session. You can get involved in the effort to adopt an EITC in Arkansas by signing up for our legislative alerts on our website, and by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.