We Can Make Earned Income Tax Credit Even Better

Almost exactly two years after California’s earned income tax credit was signed into law, we can say we’ve got something that’s working, especially for children in working families.

But that doesn’t mean the Assembly is satisfied.

Analysis shows about half the beneficiaries are kids and nearly 90 percent of the credits go to families with children. This year, nearly 350,000 taxpayers applied for the credit.

This is what we hoped for when both houses of the legislature put bills forward in 2015, and when both Democrats and Republicans came through to vote for it.

And why shouldn’t it have broad support? It’s a hugely effective tool for fighting poverty because it gives low-income working people a break on taxes. It keeps people working and it helps them raise themselves out of poverty.

As I said, however, there’s more to do.

Democrats in the assembly are pushing to raise the earning level for the credit to around $22,000. That is still below poverty level for a California family of four, and it encompasses full-time minimum wage earners.

That’s one way to expand the success. Another idea in our assembly budget proposal is to extend this tax benefit to lower-income Californians who are self-employed.

Finally, because we know there are many eligible families who still aren’t getting the credit, we have budgeted modestly for increased outreach.

If we can get more families to apply for the tax credit, it is a good thing for everyone.

Among other benefits, it is estimated that the credit gives a boost to local economies of about double the total of the credits that go to taxpayers. It is a win-win program.

While the proposed federal budget hurts our state and expands deficits, we in the assembly remain committed to a balanced budget that does things for Californians, not to them.

Find out more about Assembly Democrats’ #ProtectandPersist budget here.

Anthony Rendon is Speaker of the California State Assembly and represents the 63rd Assembly District in Southeast Los Angeles County. Follow him on Twitter @Rendon63rd.