On April 10, 2019, Senators Sherrod Brown, Ron Wyden, Dick Durbin, and Michael Bennet introduced an important piece of legislation that would substantially increase and expand tax credits for working women and families across the country. Called the Working Families Tax Relief Act (WFTRA), this bill would make a huge difference for families and individuals living paycheck to paycheck.
Why do we need this bill?
Women predominately make up the low-wage workforce, which is characterized as jobs with few benefits, unfair wages, and unstable work schedules. Black and Latinx women are specifically overrepresented in this workforce and are feeling the squeeze from stagnant wages and rising housing and child care costs. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) are two important tools to support low- and moderate-income earners. Despite this, there are holes in these policies that excludes individuals who do not have dependents at home or do not meet the requirements due to an earnings-based restriction.
For far too long, low- and moderate-income households have been forced onto the sidelines by a tax code that funnels money to the wealthy and large corporations. Combined with other much needed policies such as paid family and medical leave and affordable, high-quality child care, the Working Families Tax Relief is a critical step toward meeting the needs of women and children.
Okay, I’m with you. What else would the bill accomplish?
The Working Families Tax Relief Act tackles some of these the gaps and mitigates inequality in our tax system. The bill would:
- Strengthen the EITC for workers without dependents and provide an ample increase in the credit for families;
- Ensure that the lowest-income families and children are not left out of the CTC;
- Proposes a Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC), which provides additional income support for households with children under age 6; and
- Boost the EITC and extend the CTC to Puerto Rico
Unlike the 2017 tax bill, the Working Families Tax Relief Act would ensure that our tax system and economy work for all families, especially those that need it the most.
How far would this bill reach?
The Working Families Tax Relief Act would raise the incomes of about 46 million households and improve their economic well-being, which includes 2 million Asian American families, 8 million Black families, 9 million Latinx families, and 24 million white families. In addition, this legislation is expected to cut child poverty by 28 percent, lifting 3.1 million children out of poverty and improving the financial well-being of 8 million more. These improvements to the EITC and CTC would help keep families out of poverty and advance their children’s economic prospects for the future.
This legislation would help millions of women if enacted. If this bill had been in effect in 2017, it would have benefitted over 25 million working women – including 280,000 Native American women, 1.3 million AAPI women, 4.8 million Latinx women, and almost 4.9 million Black women.
This proposal would significantly benefit the women with the most unstable work schedules and the lowest-paying jobs – like caregivers, custodians, restaurant workers. Many women in these jobs are unable to make ends meet and are living paycheck to paycheck. Because while costs like child care and rent continue to rise, their wages have been stagnant for decades.
In addition, this proposal would provide a much-needed tax relief for families in Puerto Rico who have been excluded from the full benefits of the EITC and CTC.
Legislation that helps women, families, and children? Sign me up.
It’s critically important to change course from the disastrous 2017 tax bill and shift our focus to a plan that would put families and women at the center of our tax policy.
The Working Families Tax Relief Act would increase financial support for low- and middle-income households and address the inequality that leaves far too many behind. It would alleviate the everyday struggles of hardworking families that are trying to make ends meet with a paycheck that isn’t big enough.
The Working Families Tax Relief Act is a critical step towards reconfiguring the tax code to support women, families, and children.
You can read our factsheet to learn more about the bill.