I look forward to updating you on the House FY24 budget soon. As promised, here is more of the history of my work on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)* and Child and Family Tax Credit (CFTC)**. Again, I want to thank House Leadership for supporting working families and continuing to help transition Massachusetts residents out of poverty. Data continues to show that refundable tax credits are among the most effective tools to reduce poverty, improve physical and behavioral health outcomes, and ensure that residents survive and thrive. We know that people prosper when they have the monetary resources and the autonomy to spend their money.
Over the last decade, I have filed a bill, working with the Children’s HealthWatch and the Healthy Families Tax Credits Coalition, to increase the EITC to 50%, along with several other provisions to expand eligibility. It was initially suggested that I file a bill to increase the EITC from the current rate of 15% to 30%. I asked if any states had rates higher than 30% and learned that 7 states plus the District of Columbia had refundable EITCs at or greater than 30% of the federal credit. These were California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. I then decided we would not aim for average but that our goal would be to increase the EITC to 50%.
So in 2015, I filed a bill that would raise the EITC from 15% to 50%. The following year, I secured an increase in the EITC from 15% to 23%. I was excited we were making progress and persevered to continue working towards our 50% tax credit and ensuring that anyone who left a marriage due to domestic violence would be allowed to file their taxes separately while remaining legally married, which was not an option at the time. I am proud to share that in 2017 I was able to secure language in the budget that made Massachusetts the first state — and we are still the only state — to allow married individuals who left their abuser to file separately and benefit from the tax credit.
I refiled the bill for the next session. This time, I included language to ensure that Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) holders, legal immigrants who contribute to our communities by working and paying taxes, benefit from the tax credit. Many people were, and still are, surprised to learn that while many hard-working immigrants are granted permission to work, they are often caught in a long queue as they continue to navigate toward a more permanent citizenship status. Many of these individuals work and pay taxes and would otherwise qualify for the tax benefit. However, they are barred due to their immigration status and therefore excluded from the tax credit. I continue to advocate for including ITIN holders who qualify to benefit from the Earned Income Tax Credit. I will let you know about our progress. While I could not secure new language to expand for ITIN holders, I secured a further tax credit increase to 30% in 2018.
I refiled the bill again in the next session. This is the session when COVID-19 emerged and turned our lives around, disproportionately harming vulnerable communities and individuals. While we did not act on any new EITC increases or expansions, we did target significant resources in response to the devastating health and economic impacts of COVID-19. Last session and this session, in addition to working towards continued progress of increasing the tax credit to the 50% increase and including ITIN holders, I added language that would essentially provide a form of a basic universal income. Additionally, I filed a bill this session that would establish a child and family tax credit and eliminate the cap that limited the state-dependent tax credit to two dependents per family.
I am so thankful that the tax package that the House recently passed included another EITC increase, bringing the credit to 40%, along with a child and dependent tax credit. The House tax bill also included the language to eliminate the child tax credit cap on the number of children per family. I will keep you updated on the tax relief bill as it moves through the Legislature, where the Senate will next take it up.
If you read this email, thank you. This issue has been central to my work and advocacy as your State Representative. I am proud of the work I have accomplished on your behalf and with your support. Of course, I would have loved to have filed a bill 10 years ago and seen it adopted all at once. Rarely is our progress not done incrementally and over time. The alternative would have been to wallow in frustration and give up. That’s not why I ran for office, and it’s not what you expect me to do. Instead, perseverance on behalf of people who deserve to wake up every day and meet their most basic needs for themselves and their dependents while also trying to create new opportunities and budgets that allow people to thrive and not just survive continues to be at the heart of my work.
As always, do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns at Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov.
*The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a benefit for working individuals and families with low to moderate income that reduces the amount of taxes they owe and may even provide them with a refund. The EITC lifts children and families out of poverty, lowers overall income inequality, and improves physical and behavioral health outcomes as well as educational achievement.
**The Child and Family Tax Credit (CFTC) would provide families with $600 per dependent, including children, disabled adults, and seniors. Under current state law, families may choose between the Household Dependent Tax Credit and the Dependent Care Tax Credit for up to two children under the age of 13 or 12, respectively. My bill would convert these credits to a single, streamlined Child and Family Tax Credit worth $600/dependent, inclusive of families of all sizes and older children.