Tom Spragens: EITC benefits

March 9, 2013 

EITC benefits

In his March 6 column, Rick Martinez advocated abolishing the Earned Income Tax Credit, saying that “a married couple with three kids bringing home $50,000 qualifies for an EITC check” and that EITC “is succeeding only in making all of us poorer.”

It is virtually inconceivable that any family earning near $50,000 would receive a check from EITC. The only families who receive checks are those whose federal income tax liability is less than the credit for which they qualify. For all others, the EITC is a credit against owed taxes.

Even this credit starts phasing out at incomes between $8,000 and $20,000. The actual benefit available to any family at all near Martinez’s $50,000 figure would therefore approach zero. The most comprehensive study of EITC found that 79 percent of benefits went to families earning under $25,000 (in 2013 dollars).

As for the “making us all poorer” claim, the same study found that the EITC lifts more children out of poverty than any other social program; that, without it, the poverty rate among children would be 25 percent higher; that it reduced use of other public assistance programs; and that it brought more single women into the work force.

Martinez should tell us which of these results he does not like.

Tom Spragens, Durham

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