Earned Income Tax Credit Use Increases in State

“Washington State has had the largest increase in filers for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit nationwide, according to Governor Gary Locke.The tax credit brought an additional $29.2 million into the state compared to 1998. The funds came mostly in the form of refund checks to low and moderate-income families. The EITC assisted 301,904 households in the state in 1999 – 3,667 more households than last year, according to data compiled by the Internal Revenue Service.Locke praised state workers for spreading the word about the EITC.“Washington state employees worked very hard to tell people about the EITC this year,” Locke said. “I am proud of their efforts and very pleased that the EITC helped so many working families make ends meet.”Increasing the use of the EITC has been critical to the governor’s strategy for welfare reform known as WorkFirst.“Because workers can receive the EITC in the form of a cash refund, this tax credit can increase a low-income family’s earnings by as much as 40 percent,” Locke said. “The EITC helps make work more attractive than welfare, provides working families with some financial stability, and significantly reduces poverty.”According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the EITC brought 4.8 million people, including 2.6 million children, over the poverty line in 1998.The EITC also spurs economic development by bringing more money into local communities. This year, the EITC was worth a total of $436 million to Washington residents – $29.2 million more than last year. Over $348 million came directly into the state in the form of cash refunds to workers.According to the Washington, D.C. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 80 percent of EITC benefits go directly back to workers in the form of cash refunds, and 20 percent return to pay workers’ taxes owed to the IRS. Taxpayers can receive an EITC refund check even if he or she owes nothing in taxes.Washington was among only four states that saw an increase in the number of households receiving the credit this year.This year, the EITC is available to workers with children earning less than $30,580, and to childless workers making less than $10,200 a year. The maximum credit was $3,756. On average, Washington residents who filed for the credit received $1,445.”