July 2012 U.S. Poverty Action

Follow Up with Congress about the Benefits of EITC and CTC

Meet With Your Member of Congress (or Tax Staff) to Protect and Strengthen the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit

This month, we’re focusing on following up with our June Action (writing letters to members of Congress) by communicating directly with members of Congress and their staff. Hundreds of RESULTS volunteers will be on Capitol Hill during the RESULTS International Conference 2012. If  you will not be in DC, you can use these talking points in lobby meetings back home or conference calls with the key tax aides in your senators’ and representative’s offices.

1.    Schedule a meeting with your members of Congress, or a conference call/meeting with the tax aide. You can get their contact information, create a formal meeting request letter, and research how your representatives have voted on past issues on our website: http://capwiz.com/results/directory/congdir.tt.

2.    Before your meeting, prepare by reviewing our tips on how to have successful face-to-face meetings with representatives and senators and practice what you plan on saying using the talking points below. Use our EPIC Laser Talk format (Engage the listener, state the Problem, Inform about Solutions, and Call to Action) to ensure an effective conversation.

3.    Remind your members of Congress that the EITC stimulates the economy and promotes work. Economists estimate that for every one dollar in EITC refunds, $1.50 to $2.00 in economic activity is created. In addition, expansions of the EITC in the 1980s and 1990s helped significantly increase employment for low-income workers, particularly single mothers.

4.    Use personal stories and local data to show Congress how EITC and CTC benefit their constituents. These are some resources where you can find data on poverty rates and EITC filers in your local community (and stay tuned for more sources of data in the coming weeks).

5.    Remind your member of congress that there is widespread bipartisan support for tax credits for low-income working families. President Reagan praised EITC by saying “The Earned Income Tax Credit is the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”

6.    Ask your members of Congress if they have any questions about the benefits of tax credits for your state and local community. There are a lot of misconceptions about these tax credits. You can check out our Q&A page to see common questions your members of Congress may have!

7.    Request that your members of Congress weigh in with key leaders to protect and strengthen tax credits for low-income working families particularly the 2009 improvements to the EITC and CTC. These improvements alone lifted 1.6 million out of poverty in 2010. Ask them to talk to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI-4) and Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI-12) or Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and voice their support for the EITC and Child Tax Credit.

8.   Schedule a time to follow up by phone or email on your request. 

Tax Credits Message Points

These are messaging points that you can use when addressing members of Congress about tax credits and their effectiveness. Depending on your audience, you may want to pick and choose which of these facts or arguments you highlight.

  • The EITC and CTC promote work and parental responsibility. Only working families can claim the EITC and CTC and current policy strengthens incentives for low-income parents to work full time because the more they earn, the higher their credit.
  • Parents who work full time should be able to support their families and stay out of poverty. These credits provide a short-term safety net to ensure that parents who are willing to work hard are able to achieve a basic standard of living. In 2010, the EITC and CTC lifted 9.2 million people out of poverty, many of them children.
  • The EITC and CTC make a difference in the lives of children. Research shows that lifting a poor family’s income helps children in those families do better in school, and is associated with increased future earnings.
  • The EITC and CTC benefit parents who work as firefighters, police and sheriffs, nurses and child care workers — people who are working to support their families but are still just getting by in tough economic times.
  • These credits are good for local economies.Recipients of the EITC and CTC tend to spend these credits quickly and locally, which helps their communities. Economists estimate that for every one dollar in EITC refunds,$1.50 to $2.00 in economic activity is created. This can be contrasted with $1 spent on protecting tax cuts that benefit high-income earners – which produce a net economic loss, generating less than $0.40 for each $1 spent. 
  • These credits have a strong history of bipartisan support. The EITC has been expanded under both Democratic and Republican Presidents. President Reagan praised EITC by saying “The Earned Income Tax Credit is the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”

Message points for protecting the EITC & CTC expansions

The 2009 ARRA expansions to both the EITC and CTC are set to expire at the end of 2012. Urge your members of Congress to take a stance in support of these expansions early. Here are some key points about what will happen if these expansions are not protected.

  • If policymakers do not extend the Recovery Act’s EITC and CTC improvements, large numbers of low-income working families will be pushed back into poverty.
  • Protect access to the Child Tax Credit for families earning less than $13,500.
  • If the CTC expansion expires, a single parent with two children working full-time at the minimum wage– earning just $14,500 per year — will lose over $1,400. Now is not the time to raise taxes on the lowest-income earners.

Message points for tax fairness & letting the tax cuts expire for the upper 2 percent

When talking about tax credits it sometimes help to look at the big picture. The United States has an extremely complicated tax code, but understanding how revenues and expenditures work together can be beneficial both for your personal understanding of the system as well as a messaging point for talking to Congress about their priorities.

  • The wealthiest people in our country have received the biggest tax breaks and we just can’t afford to keep giving tax cuts to those who need it the least. 47 percent of the benefits from the Bush tax cuts went to the wealthiest five percent of Americans.
  • Everybody must pay their fair share. We need to reform our tax code so it raises adequate revenues to meet critical needs in a fiscally responsible manner – starting with wealthy Americans paying their fair share. A recent study shows that under the FY 2013 House Republican Budget, people earning less than $200,000 per year would see their taxes increase by $2,700 while millionaires would receive a $300,000 tax cut.
  • We cannot afford to extend tax cuts for the wealthy. The Bush tax cuts cost the U.S. Treasury $2.1 trillion over the first ten years, revenue that could have been used to strengthen the social safety net and pay down the federal deficit.

We will discuss the latest on the EITC, Child Tax Credit, and the larger fight for tax fairness on the RESULTS July 2012 National Conference Call — Saturday, July 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm ET. To participate, call (888) 409-6709 with your group by 12:28 pm ET.