In Advance of Tonight's State of the Union Address, Brown Joins His Guest - a Low-Income, Cincinnati Worker - to Call for Expansion of Critical Tax Relief

As Senate Prepares to Begin Debate on Tax Reform, Brown Legislation Would Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for Low-Income Workers Without Children – The Only Class of Americans that can be Taxed into Poverty

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In advance of tonight’s State of the Union address, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called for the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to low-income workers without children – the only class of Americans who can be taxed into poverty. During a news conference call today, Brown – a member of the Senate Finance Committee – will echo President Obama and argue that any tax reform legislation should focus on working families.

At tonight’s speech, Brown will be joined by Jason Jacobs, a Cincinnati-area worker who would benefit from expansion of the EITC. Jacobs – who is from Macedonia and graduated from Ohio University – earned $9 an hour while working at Target and looking for a teaching job. Though he is now employed in the West Clermont School District, his total income for tax year 2014 was less than $16,000. Because he is childless, Jacobs income is too high to qualify for the EITC. Under Brown’s proposal; he would receive an EITC of $604. Brown and Jacobs hope President Obama will join them in calling for an expansion of the EITC for workers without children.

“Any discussion about strengthening our economy must focus on ensuring that all Americans have the chance to provide for their families and build economic security,” Brown said. “But under current law, workers without children making minimum wage – like Jason – barely receive any EITC. That makes young people and workers without children the only group that can be taxed deeper into poverty. Our current tax policy is backwards – These workers need help out of poverty, not taxed into it.”

Although the EITC encourages work and helps families make ends meet, the EITC for workers without children remains extremely small—too small even to fully offset federal taxes for workers at the poverty line. President Reagan called the EITC the most effective anti-poverty program in the U.S. County-by-county data on the number of Ohioans who have recently benefited from the credits and the amount of their average return is available here.

Last Congress, Brown introduced the Working Families Tax Relief Act, a proposal that would expand the EITC for workers without children by reducing the EITC eligibility age from 25 to 21 and increasing the size of and eligibility for the credit. In December 2014, Brown led Democratic efforts to prevent making certain expiring business tax provisions permanent without also making the expiring EITC and Child Tax Credit provisions permanent.

“While the EITC is one of the nation's most effective anti-poverty tools, young and childless workers are largely left out,” said Rebecca Vallas, Director of Policy for the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress. “Senator Brown’s proposal to strengthen the credit so that these workers are not taxed into poverty is a common-sense proposal that should win support among Democrats and Republicans alike.”

Below is an analysis of the number of Ohioans who would be helped by Brown’s proposed expansion of the childless EITC in the seven largest metropolitan areas of Ohio.

Metro Area

NEWLY ELIGIBLE

INCREASED  ELIGIBLITY

INCREASED BENEFITS

TOTAL AFFECTED

AVERAGE EITC

 CHANGE AVERAGE EITC 

OHIO TOTAL

308,000

100%

310,000

618,000

$710

$450

Akron, OH

       22,400

110%

              20,700

         43,100

$760

$480

Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN

       52,200

90%

              56,700

       109,000

$680

$450

Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH

       48,000

85%

              55,100

       103,100

$700

$440

Columbus, OH

       48,700

110%

              43,900

         92,600

$710

$460

Dayton, OH

       24,800

120%

              20,900

         45,600

$700

$450

Toledo, OH

       25,700

140%

              18,700

         44,500

$720

$450

Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA

       12,600

75%

              16,700

         29,300

$700

$420

Source: Brookings Institution

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