November 2010 U.S. Poverty Action

Greet the Lame Duck Congress with Letters Supporting EITC and CTC

Write Letters to Congress Urging Extension of Vital Tax Provisions for Low-Income Working Families

House and Senate leaders are negotiating a plan of action for tax legislation and it’s critical that it include an extension of the 2009 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) improvements.  Use these talking points to draft handwritten letters to representatives and senators and fax your letters to Congress ASAP (and send them also to their local offices to ensure they are received). Don't have time to write a letter? Use our online action alert to send a quick email directly to your representatives and senators.

  1. Introduce yourself as a constituent and a RESULTS volunteer.
  2. Voice your support for policies that help low-income working families, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). Both encourage people to work, even when their jobs pay too little to live on, and promote responsibility as families work to create a better future for their children.
  3. Remind them that American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) expansions to EITC and CTC are set to expire at the end of this year.
  4. Illustrate the impact by sharing local or state data from Citizens for Tax Justice, stories, or by telling them that a minimum wage family with two children working full-time currently receives a Child Tax Credit of about $1,750. If Congress does not act to extend the current levels, that family’s CTC will drop to $250, a $1,500 loss, a significant blow to their already limited budget.
  5. Urge your representative to tell House leadership (Representatives Sander Levin and Dave Camp of the Ways and Means Committee, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi)/senator to tell Senate leadership (Senators Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee, and Majority Leader Harry Reid) to make sure that the 2009 ARRA provisions on the EITC and CTC are made permanent, or at least extended with middle class tax cuts, before they expire at the end of 2010. Specifically:
    • Make the $3,000 CTC income eligibility threshold permanent.
    • Make the ARRA EITC improvements for married couples and larger families permanent

Note: To find contact information, including telephone numbers and addresses for congressional offices and the names of the health and tax staffer, visit our Elected Officials page ( For directory assistance, you can also contact the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. 

Low-Income Tax Credits Support Families and Reduce Poverty

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) are federal programs that help working families in low-wage jobs. These credits encourage work by requiring a minimum income to qualify for the credits. For the CTC, a family must earn at least $3,000; for the EITC, a person’s credit gets larger only he/she earns more income. The intention of these credits is to help families working at the minimum-wage move above the poverty line, so as to avoid raising children in poverty. In fact, the EITC is the largest poverty-reduction program in the U.S. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that in 2009, the EITC lifted 6.6 million people out of poverty, half of them children.

In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) expanded the EITC and CTC to help more low-income families. The Citizens for Tax Justice estimates that 12 million mostly low-income workers with children have received an average of $872 from these changes. However, these improvements will expire at the end of this year. CBPP estimates that families with incomes above $10,000 would be hit the hardest, experiencing 80 percent of the losses. If families making between $3,000 to $13,000 lose the CTC, 600,000 children will fall back into poverty and 4 million more fall deeper into poverty. In an economy that is slow to recover and not expected to reach full employment for several years, we must focus on strategic investments that help low-income families get on their feet and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will strengthen local economies.

Much of the debate on taxes this year has focused on whether to give a $100,000 tax cut to every millionaire in America, while the economic hardship of working families is ignored. Congress must get its priorities straight. Let’s make sure we send a strong message to the (current) Congress when they return on November 15: make the 2009 improvement to the EITC and CTC permanent so low-income Americans can continue to work toward a better life for themselves and their children. You can also use this action sheet and the excellent EITC and CTC Fact Sheet created by RESULTS organizer Jos Linn on the next page to educate and mobilize others in your community to join us in this effort. We’ll discuss our strategy in more detail on our abridged November 2010 National Conference Call — Saturday, November 13, at 12:30 pm ET. To participate, call (888) 409-6709 with your group by 12:28 pm ET.