This afternoon I joined members of the Oregon Senate, Oregon House and advocates from across the state in testifying before the Oregon Senate Finance and Revenue Committee in support of an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit that would help Oregon families lift themselves out of poverty. You can download a PDF copy of my testimony here (or read it below the fold). SB 349 - the bill which would expand the credit - is supported by Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and a large coalition of organizations from across the state. The concept of the Earned Income Tax Credit, as I noted in my testimony before the committee, was first embraced by Ronald Reagan and has largely enjoyed bi-partisan support. In a time of growing poverty in Oregon, this is one step our Legislature could take that could truly help working families. I urge all Oregonians to contact members of the Oregon Senate Finance and Revenue Committee to voice support for this legislation as it moves forward. Below is additional information from the Coalition for Working Families on the Earned Income Tax Credit and why it is so important:
Improving the State EITC Would Help Oregon Working Families Get Ahead
A strong work ethic is rightly among the most cherished of American values. In an ideal world, work alone would open the doors to opportunity. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many Oregonians. Too many low- and moderate-income working families in Oregon struggle to make ends meet.
Oregon can make work more rewarding for low-income families by improving its Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
The problem: Taxes hit low-income, working families hardest
Oregon’s working poor and near-poor families pay some of the nation’s highest state income taxes. On top of that, other taxes and fees in Oregon’s revenue system hit low-income families hardest. For example, the new gas tax signed into law in 2009 and set to take effect in 2011 will take a bigger bite out of the pocketbooks of low- and moderate-income households compared to better-off taxpayers.
The policy solution: Improve the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit
A state EITC is the most targeted way to improve the tax system for working families. Oregon’s EITC has a long history of bipartisan support. Unfortunately, Oregon’s current EITC, at 6 percent of the federal EITC, is too small. Oregon’s current EITC is one of the lowest among states offering EITCs and it leaves low-income Oregonians with significantly higher taxes on their income compared to other states.
What would boosting Oregon's EITC mean? Consider the impact of increasing the state tax credit from its current 6 percent of the federal credit to 18 percent. Such a boost would:
• Cut taxes for one in seven Oregon households. It would do so in a targeted way, helping low-income working families.
• Boost the earnings of the average EITC household by about $215 a year. For a family of four living at the poverty line (an income of about $22,000), it would mean about $587 extra income each year.
• Benefit over 220,000 households from all corners of Oregon.
• Put state tax dollars into Oregon communities. EITC dollars are spent quickly and locally.
Oregon succeeds when all families have a chance to succeed. An improved state EITC will make work more rewarding for many Oregon families.
Campaign to Improve Oregon's EITC
Over 100 organizations from across the state have joined Oregonians for Working Families, which has launched a campaign to enact a meaningful boost to Oregon's EITC.
Read the latest on the Oregonians for Working families campaign to boost the state EITC.
The text of my testimony before the Oregon Senate Finance and Revenue Committee is below: