The Mother’s Day gift to thousands of single moms: tax credits

26 August 2015 Written by  

The following op-ed by Matthew Weinstein of Voices for Utah Children was originally posted at the Salt Lake Tribune on May 8, 2015.

mothers day eitcUtah's working moms are never off the clock. From packing lunches in the morning to tucking kids in at night, mothers put in a lot more than a full day's work. And every dollar they work for is hard earned for the approximately 60 percent of Utah women who are in the workforce. That's why we are celebrating moms Sunday.

But this Mother's Day, it's also important to watch what's happening in Washington: Congress can help hundreds of thousands of mothers right here in Utah by making permanent key improvements to federal tax credits that put money back into the pockets of moms who have earned it.

For more than 21 million working mothers across the country, including 200,000 in Utah, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) are important tools to help them make ends meet for their families. By offsetting payroll and income taxes, these credits support work, increase wages and reduce poverty.

Boosting income means that moms are better able to pay for the very things that allow them to work and improve their family's situation, such as child care and transportation. Combined, the EITC and CTC lifted 9.4 million people out of poverty in 2013, and more than 100,000 here in Utah, more than any other federal program besides Social Security.

That's an incredible success story on its own, but evidence also shows that the EITC and CTC have long-term benefits for moms and their kids.

Children whose families receive the tax credits perform better in school, and mothers and their children who benefit are healthier than families that do not. Larger tax refunds, like those provided by these important credits, also boost college enrollment by making college more affordable for low- and moderate-income households.

And perhaps the best news is that the boost in work effort and earnings extends into the next generation, with more work and higher earnings years later for children raised by mothers who benefit from the added take-home pay these tax credits provide.

It's no surprise that the credits have enjoyed strong, bipartisan support over the years.

However, unless Congress acts, millions of moms and kids will lose some or all of the important benefits they receive from the EITC and CTC when several key provisions expire at the end of 2017, including the following that are especially important here in Utah:

1) The current larger EITC for families raising more than two children.

2) EITC "marriage-penalty" relief.

3) The current lower CTC earnings exclusion, which expands the credit for millions of working families and means fewer working-poor families are shut out of the credit entirely.

As just one example, a single mom with two kids working as a health aide caring for the elderly and earning the minimum wage would lose about $1,725 — her entire CTC — in 2018, unless Congress acts.

Fortunately, Congress can act to stop 13 million families with 25 million children (including 115,000 Utah families with 258,000 children) from losing all or part of their credits, which would cost these families an average of $840 a year. If Congress fails to act, 143,000 Utahns, including 74,000 children, will be pushed into — or deeper into — poverty.

If you want to help working moms right here in Utah this Mother's Day, consider calling our federal representatives and senators and asking them to support moms and kids by making these key provisions of the EITC and CTC permanent.

For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities. How can you be involved?

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex


Matthew Weinstein 300Matthew Weinstein, State Priorities Partnership Director, joined the organization in 2014. As State Fiscal Policy Director, he conducts analysis and advocacy focused on the state budget from the perspective of what's best for Utah's children. He holds a Master of Public Policy degree from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Political Science from Amherst College.