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December 2014 U.S. Poverty Action

Remind Tax Aides to Protect and Strengthen Tax Credits

Last month Congressional leaders tried to push forward a tax package that would have made a number of business tax credits permanent while leaving low-income families in the cold. While the White House and Congressional allies pushed back to scuttle the deal, it was a reminder that we have to keep the pressure on members of Congress to protect Americans struggling in poverty. This month we’ll reconnect to the tax aides in our Senate and House offices, urging Congress to make protecting and strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) a top priority in any tax package next year. With a new Congress very interested in tax reform and some bipartisan support to expand the EITC, connecting with tax aides now will build momentum for tax policies that prioritize creating economic mobility in 2015.

Call Tax Aides about Protecting EITC and CTC

  1. Coordinate with others in your group to assign someone to call each Senate and House office and ask to speak to the aide who handles tax issues. You can find contact information and staff names on our Elected Officials page at: http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/officials/.
  2. When connected, share your concern that Congress is too focused on tax breaks for corporations and that there are smarter tax policies that Congress should instead focus their energies on: the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for low-income working families.
  3. Tell the aide these tax credits are our nation's most successful anti-poverty programs for children -- they lifted 8.8 million Americans out of poverty in 2013.
  4. Specifically mention that EITC and the CTC are a hand up – not a hand out – enabling low-income working families to make ends meet. Perhaps mention that a range of studies also demonstrate that credits like the CTC and EITC boost children's test scores, college enrollment rates, and earnings later in life while incentivizing work and prioritizing families. If you can share a personal story of the impact of these policies in your own life, do so!
  5. Note that key EITC and CTC provisions are set to expire in 2017. If they do, about 17 million people, including 8 million children, will fall into poverty or deeper into poverty.
  6. Also flag bipartisan support for expanding the EITC for single adults (“childless workers”) by lowering the eligible EITC age from 25 to 21 and doubling the size of the credit (from around $500 to $1,000 as a maximum EITC). This alone would help 13.5 million Americans, including 1.5 million non-custodial parents, and would lift 500,000 hardworking Americans out of poverty.
  7. Urge the aide to ask his/her boss to speak to incoming Senate Finance Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and ranking member Ron Wyden (D-OR) or incoming House Ways and Means Chair Paul Ryan (R-1-WI) an ranking member Sander Levin (D-9-MI), along with Senate (Senators McConnell/Reid) or House (Representatives Boehner/Pelosi) leadership, and urge them to:
  • Make the expiring improvements to the EITC and CTC permanent
  • Expand the EITC for childless workers by expanding the eligible EITC age and increasing the size of the credit
  1. For Democrats, urge them to also demonstrate their support for EITC and CTC by cosponsoring H.R. 769 and H.R. 2116 in the House or S. 836 in the Senate before Congress adjourns if they haven’t already, and support similar bills in the next Congress.
  2. Schedule a time to follow up by phone or email on your request. 

Lay the Groundwork Now for Tax Fairness in 2015

The next Congress could make major changes to the tax code, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Key leaders in Congress have spoken about their interest in major tax reform, perhaps through “budget reconciliation”. As a reminder, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) will likely become the next Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Ryan’s recent House budget proposals have included major tax cuts. Separately, Rep. Ryan proposed an expansion of EITC that resembles President Obama’s proposal.

Building on our media success from last month, reconnect with tax aides in the House and Senate and tell them to make the 2009 improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) permanent. The failed negotiations right before Thanksgiving on a new tax extenders bill reminds us how important this is: the bill would have made a number of business tax credits permanent, including the research and experimentation credit (the R&E credit alone would cost $151 billion over the next ten years). Other business tax credits would have been extended for another year and the bill would cost $409 billion over ten years.

According to the Washington Post, one of the sticking points that killed the bill was the failure of negotiators to make the 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC permanent. Congress will likely pass a one-year extension of these business tax credits, it seems that a bigger fight awaits in 2015 over tax reform. To maintain support for the EITC and CTC, we must remind members of Congress that constituents care about the families who receive these credits. Talking to the tax aides in your House and Senate offices is an important way to get your message to your elected leaders to keep the pressure on them to make the EITC and CTC improvements permanent and work together to expand the EITC in 2015.

On the December 13, 2014, National Conference Call, we’ll celebrate the great work of RESULTS volunteers and preview our work with the new Congress. To participate, call (888) 409-6709 by 12:27 pm ET. Keep your local Action Network engaged by pasting this message into an email (or Facebook post, etc.): Last month Congressional leaders tried to push forward a tax package that would have made a number of business tax credits permanent while leaving low-income families in the cold. This deal fell apart, but it was a reminder that we have to keep the pressure on members of Congress to protect Americans struggling in poverty. Join me using RESULTS online alert to tell Congress to make protecting low-income working families who get the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) a priority this holiday season.