Saul Harlow: W.Va. Earned Income Tax Credit Would Help Economy, Families, Future

Beckley Register-Herald -For over 40 years, the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has helped working families who work for low wages. Read

Supported by both Republicans and Democrats, the EITC is an anti-poverty, pro-work tax credit which puts more money into the pockets of hard-working families. In fact, Congress recently improved the federal EITC, with U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and the state’s House delegation leading the way in support.

Now it’s time for the state legislature to get on board and create a West Virginia EITC.

The EITC functions by refunding a percentage of an individual’s income tax at the end of the year. Conservatives approve of the EITC for its core concept: It is only available to those who are working. This refund gives families the extra income they need to help pay for necessities such as child care, a car repair, food, etc. In turn, low-wage workers are better equipped to continue taking care of their families.

For working folks with very low wages, the credit increases with every additional dollar earned, up to a maximum amount. This encourages them to work more hours. With this “bottom up” tax credit, the more hours a person works the more income tax they’ll get back at the end of the year.

Because the EITC rewards those who work, it is a launching pad into the middle class for the poor.

Right now, 26 states and D.C. offer their own EITCs to augment the federal programs. These states are all around the union and do not represent a single ideology or geographic cluster.

West Virginia is facing a tough future. We know coal usage throughout the world has diminished and the demand for coal is no longer there, which is hurting our economy, businesses, and our families. A West Virginia EITC would cushion the economic blow to the impoverished in our state while also strengthening our work force to attract more businesses. Furthermore, the money coming to families would boost local economies as well. Car repair shops, child care centers and grocery stores would all benefit.

A West Virginia EITC would help 141,000 families, including nearly 163,000 children, achieve more stable financial footing. And it would inject nearly $45 million into communities all across the state.

Behind the numbers are West Virginia’s working moms and dads, and their children. West Virginia needs them to succeed, because our state is stronger when everyone does well.


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