An estimated 80,000 military families in Georgia, including both active-duty personnel and veterans, receive either the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the low-income component of the Child Tax Credit (CTC), two highly effective federal benefits that support working families as they try to reach the middle class. The tax credits keep around 7,500 military families in Georgia, including 16,000 children, out of poverty,
Those are among the findings of a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which studied the ways these pro-family credits support soldiers, veterans and their families nationwide.
Tax reform debates are heating up in Congress this summer and lawmakers will review both the EITC and CTC during the process. Certain aspects of these programs were modestly expanded and improved during the Great Recession, but the enhancements are set to expire in 2017. Congress has the opportunity to make those improvements permanent.
These two credits are only available to people who work. Both are designed to help working families trying to pull themselves out of poverty into the middle class. Each reinforces the idea that work is better than welfare and, partly as a result, they enjoy a long history of bipartisan support. President Ronald Reagan, for example, once called the EITC “the best antipoverty, best-pro-family, best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”
The EITC and CTC are also highly effective at reducing child poverty. They have been linked to improved performance, including better test scores, by school children. The credits also help working families with incomes modestly above the poverty line who still struggle with basic expenses like housing, school clothes, car repairs and groceries.
For military families in particular, they have proven to be a key support. Nationwide, roughly 1.5 million military families, including about 3 million children under age 18, currently receive one or both of the credits. Together, they keep more than 140,000 American military families, with nearly 300,000 children and 600,000 total family members, from falling below the poverty line.
Current and former troops, plus their families, have made incredible sacrifices to help keep us safe and we owe it to them to ensure they can make ends meet. With some of the largest populations of people with military connections in the country, Georgia’s congressional delegation can play a key role in making sure we pay that debt. Congress should ensure that these important tax credits, including the recent improvements, remain safeguards against poverty for years to come.