Seth DiStefano: Good for WV families — a state EITC

By By Seth DiStefano

It’s not too late for West Virginia policy makers to help hardworking families build a solid future.

Lawmakers could accomplish this by joining the 26 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have adopted a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). EITCs are a proven way to help move families toward the middle class and put children on a better path.

Modeled after the federal tax credit by the same name, state EITCs recognize that a lot of people work hard for pay that is too low to afford their needs. They help these folks afford necessities like heating their homes or car repairs to make sure mom and dad can get to work.

Over the years, EITCs have been a truly bipartisan effort, and a way to both reward work and promote strong families and communities.

They work well for a number of reasons.

Only people who work get the EITC. For working folks with very low wages, the credit increases with every additional dollar earned, up to a maximum amount. This encourages them to work more hours.

EITCs help strengthen local businesses and economies because families struggling to get by tend to spend everything they earn on necessities and at local stores.

And because the additional income helps parents better meet their needs, young children in low-income families getting an EITC tend to do better and go farther in school, and as adults earn more money.

Recently, Congress improved the federal EITC, with U.S. Sen Shelley Moore Capito and the state’s House delegation leading the way in support. Now it’s time for the state Legislature to get on board.

Under state EITCs, working people get a credit based on a percentage of their federal credit. In West Virginia that would help 141,000 families, including nearly 163,000 children, achieve more stable financial footing. And it would inject over $46 million into communities all across the state.

Sure, those are just numbers. But behind the numbers are West Virginia’s working moms and dads, and their children. West Virginia needs them to succeed, because our state is stronger when everyone does well.

A West Virginia EITC would help thousands of hardworking West Virginia families, keeping them from falling farther behind and helping them to get ahead.

Seth DiStefano is EITC campaign coordinator for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

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