MPHA Calls for Increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, Touts Benefits to Reduce Poverty and Improve Health

On March 31st, MPHA Executive Director Rebekah Gewirtz joined many partner organizations and families to testify before the Revenue Committee in support of increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Increasing the EITC is a priority for MPHA this year because of its demonstrated ability to alleviate poverty and improve health outcomes, especially for mothers and their children.

For those with low incomes, having more cash in hand is essential to meeting basic needs, including buying healthy foods and paying for health care costs. The Massachusetts EITC helps the working poor rise out of poverty, lowering the income gap and improving health. The EITC is associated with fewer babies born at a low birth rate as well as the purchase of more fruits and vegetables.  Families with children receive the largest benefits, so investing in a higher EITC is investing in our future.

Please join the campaign increase the Massachusetts EITC – send a message to your legislators today!

The EITC operates on both a federal and state level, rewarding families for the time they spend working. The credit is deducted from the amount workers pay in taxes, putting money in the pockets of those who need it most. Any amount that exceeds taxes owed is directly paid to the individual.

The Massachusetts EITC is currently set at 15% of the federal EITC – the goal is to raise it by passing one of several bills currently before the legislature. Senator Eldridge and Representative Decker filed a bill that would raise the Massachusetts EITC to 50%, while other bills increasing the Massachusetts EITC to 30% were filed by Governor Baker, Senator Downing, and Senator Creem. Representative Jones also filed a bill that would raise it to 25%.

Currently, the highest Massachusetts EITC credit is $936 for families with children; those earning $14,000 to $24,000 a year receiving the largest credit. With an EITC increase to 50%, the maximum would rise to $3,121. Other states have refundable EITCs of up to 30-40%, including 32% in Vermont and 40% in Washington, DC. Basically, Massachusetts can do better!

This Massachusetts EITC increase matters because poverty is associated with poor health and we all want a healthy Commonwealth.

  • The federal EITC combined with the federal Child Tax Credit helped keep roughly 74,000 children out of poverty in Massachusetts. By increasing the Massachusetts EITC even more children can live outside of poverty.
  • EITC improves the health of children and mothers. Mothers who receive the EITC are more likely to receive prenatal care, which improves both their health and infant health. For example, state EITCs are associated with decreased maternal smoking, and increased EITC income has been found to decrease the incidence of low birth-weight, especially for African American mothers.
  • Low-educated women impacted by a past EITC expansion had fewer predictors of conditions such as heart attacks and strokes
  • EITC recipients buy more healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy, when they receive their EITC disbursement. And, healthy eating can reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Now is the time to make your voice heard in support of expanding the state’s EITC! Join us in reaching out to your legislator.

Read more about the EITC:

Massachusetts’s Earned Income Tax Credit

Why are Pediatricians and Child Health Researchers Talking about Tax Policy?

Tax credits for Working Families: Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

Income, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Infant Health

Giving Mom a Break: The Impact of Higher EITC Payments on Maternal Health

Effects of Prenatal Poverty on Infant Health: State Earned Income Tax Credits and Birth Weight