Brown pushes expanding earned income tax credit

Workers without children would qualify for credit under Brown plan.

On the same day House Speaker Paul Ryan released the GOP plan to combat poverty, Sen. Sherrod Brown reiterated his call for an expansion of a federal tax credit designed to help low-income Americans by dramatically increasing the credit for workers without children.

In a speech Tuesday at the Center for American Progress, Brown, D-Ohio, said expanding the earned income tax credit to people without children would “lift more than half a million people out of poverty and reduce poverty for an additional 10 million.”

“Young people and workers without families are literally the only ones that can be taxed into poverty,” said Brown. “Those taxes can actually push them below the poverty line.”

The earned income tax credit also figures into the 35-page GOP plan. Increasing the tax credit “would help smooth the glide path from welfare to work,” the plan states. But the Ryan plan does not say whether the tax credit should be expanded for people without children.

The earned income tax credit, signed into law in 1975 by Republican President Gerald Ford, is a refundable tax credit that helps 24 million low-income working people who receive a sum of money from the government after they file their taxes. But while the tax credit helps adults with children, those without children cannot take more than a $500 credit, and many do not receive that much.

For example, a full-time minimum wage worker earning $14,500 a year receives a $27 tax credit. Under Brown’s plan, the worker would receive a tax credit of $913.

“Under current law, somebody making $15,000 a year or somebody making $10 an hour, but who has no children—those workers making minimum wage barely receive any earned-income tax credit,” Brown said.

“And if they’re under 25, they don’t qualify for these credits at all,” Brown said. “That means that a young worker—somebody making $9 or $10 an hour without children—can actually be taxed into poverty.”

The Center for American Progress is a Democratic Party leaning non-profit organization in Washington, D.C.