What States Can Learn from the District of Columbia’s EITC Expansion

The District of Columbia has created the nation’s most beneficiant state earned earnings tax credit score (EITC) and it’ll ship the advantages month-to-month. The 50 states ought to take observe.

Larger State EITCs Are Easy, Inexpensive, and Efficient

At the moment, 28 states and the District of Columbia supply a state EITC. (Missouri and Washington will be part of the record in 2023.) Most calculate their state credit score as a proportion of the federal EITC and thus piggyback on the poverty-fighting design of the federal credit. For instance, the District’s EITC is at the moment 40 p.c of the federal credit score—tied with New Jersey for the best match within the nation. 


In early August, the DC Council unanimously passed a new budget that bumps that match to 70 p.c in tax yr 2022 and 100% beginning in 2026. If the mayor approves the finances (or the DC Council overrides her veto), that District’s generosity will tower above most different states: Of the 19 states that provide an EITC as a easy proportion match of the federal credit score and present a refundable credit score, 13 supplied matches of lower than 20 p.c.   

This yr, the utmost federal EITC for an eligible filer with three or extra youngsters is $6,728. The District’s present 40 p.c match produces a $2,692 DC EITC, however a 70 p.c match would enhance the fee to $4,710 and a 100% match would double the federal credit score for a mixed EITC of $13,456.  

Getting $6,728 as an alternative of $2,692 from the District is a big profit for the filer, however the fee received’t break the District’s finances. The District estimates that elevating its match to 100% (compared with the present 40 p.c baseline) will cut back tax income by roughly $65 million yearly—a fraction of town’s $17.5 billion budget.

A 60-percentage level hike may not be in most states’ plans, but it surely’s value underlining the relative affordability of an EITC increase. For instance, in response to the Tax Coverage Heart’s state tax mannequin, a 10-percentage-point EITC enhance would value Montana roughly $20 million, Kansas $50 million, Michigan $200 million, and New York State about $400 million—lower than 1 p.c of each state’s total tax revenue.

That’s necessary as a result of the Treasury Department says states can reduce taxes and use American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds if the tax reduce is lower than 1 p.c of complete tax income. In truth, Treasury explicitly cited EITC enlargement as an allowable tax reduce as a result of it straight helps the low-income employees most harmed by the pandemic. Extra typically, the EITC disproportionally helps women of color.

Moreover, the seven states with nonrefundable credit ought to make them refundable (which permits filers to receiving credit exceeding tax legal responsibility as funds), and the 20 states with out a credit score ought to enact them (Washington proved a state with out an earnings tax can do that).

That stated, counting on a one-time federal fee to create a everlasting state tax reduce is dangerous. Certainly, the District paid for its enlargement by raising taxes on high-income residents. But when a state is thinking tax cuts due to the mixture of financial development and ARP {dollars} then the EITC should be at the top of its list.

However States Ought to Assume By means of EITC Reforms

States might wish to give extra thought to the District’s plan for making EITC advantages month-to-month, although. Below the brand new laws, the District will give an EITC beneficiary 40 p.c of her DC credit score when she recordsdata and the rest (if it’s greater than $1,200) in month-to-month funds.

That’s, the District will delay tax refunds for EITC recipients. No different filers—low- or excessive earnings, particular person or enterprise— should wait 12 months for his or her full refund.

The District did this to keep away from the messy administrative issues created by advance funds, particularly the chance of getting to clawback overpayments if a filer’s earnings or household scenario adjustments in the course of the yr. Certainly, the federal authorities is coping with this very issue with its superior baby tax credit score funds. However delaying refunds nonetheless is a big tradeoff.

Fortunately, there are different, extra confirmed EITC reforms accessible to states, comparable to considerably increasing the credit score for childless workers (the District was a frontrunner on that, too) and making childless employees ages 18 to 24 and filers with out a Social Safety quantity eligible for the state EITC although each teams are typically ineligible for the federal EITC.

As state policymakers map out a restoration from the pandemic, they need to keep in mind there’s a easy and cost-effective poverty-fighting device of their tax coverage toolkit. They will tweak it in the event that they like, however all they actually need to do is crank up their match as excessive as attainable and let the federal system do the work.    

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