Economic Security Project and the nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center hosted a discussion on addressing poverty and the Cost-of-Living Refund. The event featured keynote remarks from Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Gwen Moore, and also an engaging panel on opportunities to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit that included:
Adam Ruben, Campaigns Director, Economic Security Project
Elaine Maag, Principal Research Associate, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center
Aisha Nyandoro, Chief Executive Officer, Springboard to Opportunities
Aparna Mathur, Resident Scholar in Economic Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute
Eillie Anzilotti, Assistant Editor, Fast Company (moderator)
Some highlights from the event:
"Individuals should not be working 40, 50 hours per week, and still have to live with the stress that if an emergency happens, they do not have the resources necessary to take care of that… Cash allows you just to show up and live your full life.” -- Aisha Nyandoro, Springboard to Opportunities
“This expansion of the EITC would promote racial equity. It would benefit people of color in the bottom of the income distribution… Cash gives people the tools and the dignity to solve their own problems… We think the Cost-of-Living Refund is a great solution, but it doesn't exist in isolation. We need a comprehensive vision for a fairer economy.” -- Adam Ruben, Economic Security Project
“Dignity of work means hard work should pay off for everyone, no matter who you are or what kind of work you do. No matter your race, no matter your gender, no matter your economic status, whether you punch a clock or swipe a badge, whether you care for an aging parent, whether you’re raising children, whether you work for tips, whether you work on a salary, dignity of work is a message that speaks to everybody." -- Senator Sherrod Brown, OH
"Wage stagnation is really having a profound impact on families. The Earned Income Tax Credit, as inadequate as it is today, boosts the income of about 28 million Americans… Dr. King said that the only solution to poverty is to abolish it directly. So, let's get busy ya'll." -- Representative Gwen Moore, WI-4
"The fact that the EITC is so closely tied to work leaves out the working poor." -- Aparna Mathur, American Enterprise Institute
Also at the event, a new report was released from Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center that examines the Cost-of-Living Refund. The report found that a Cost-of-Living Refund would reach more people, with more benefits, when they need them.
Here are some of the report’s key findings:
The Cost-of-Living Refund would deliver about $250 billion more in annual benefits to roughly 70 million low- and moderate-income families.
The Cost-of-Living Refund would provide a maximum benefit for single workers of $4,000 and a maximum benefit for married couples of $8,000.
Benefits for the Cost-of-Living Refund begin to phase out at higher incomes than EITC benefits, which allows more middle-income workers to benefit.
The Cost-of-Living Refund would expand eligibility to all workers over age 18, broadening the current limited age range.
Building on the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Cost-of-Living Refund is grounded in work, and expands the definition of work to include family caregivers and low-income students--people who are contributing to society in a different way.
By providing a substantial credit to childless workers, the Cost-of-Living Refund would extend EITC benefits to this group, reducing poverty.
The policy would allow beneficiaries to receive the credit throughout the year as needs arise, rather than waiting until after the year when tax returns are typically filed. This can help alleviate Income volatility for low- and middle-income workers.
It would also make the benefit available on a monthly basis, helping recipients stretch their budget until the end of the month or save for unforeseen events, and helping keep people from falling prey to exorbitant fees from payday lenders.
These changes would substantially increase benefits for many. In addition, they would simplify credit use and administration by largely eliminating the EITC’s complicated tests for identifying qualifying children.