In my family, we shake our heads when we read about the booming economy. My husband works as a merchandiser and we have an amazing 19-month-old son. I’m a stay-at-home mom, because we can’t afford childcare. In this supposedly booming economy, we find ourselves struggling every month just to cover the basics and make ends meet.
No tax cut for us
We know the Trump administration and Congress passed a massive tax cut last year, and we hoped it would help us. With a recent raise, my husband makes just over $16 per hour. He works 52 hours a week, but after taxes, our annual income is just under $35,000 per year. Last month when we filed our taxes, it became clear that last year’s tax reform didn’t offer any benefit to us. It wasn’t designed for families like mine. The primary beneficiaries were the wealthy and mega-corporations.
“Every year in this country people are evicted from their homes not by the tens or even the hundreds of thousands but by the millions.”
Matthew Desmond, Poverty and Profit in the American City
Relying on old credits
We continue to use the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), which are essential. We use them to cover necessities like health care, food, housing, transportation, and paying for my son’s activities. But it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what we need, especially because these tax credits don’t account for the tremendous expenses we face with a child who is so young.
A new chance at relief
That’s why we were so glad to hear about the Working Families Tax Relief Act, introduced in the US Senate, which would help moms like me. In fact, 15.3 million working moms would see an increase in their EITC or CTC from the Working Families Tax Relief Act. This legislation would boost the incomes of about 44 million households, benefiting more than 112 million people. My family and many of my friends would be among them.
A simple fix
The bill would do this by expanding the EITC by roughly 25 percent and raising the maximum benefit for a family with two children to $7,290, making the CTC fully refundable, and by creating a new, fully refundable Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC) for children under age 6. That is music to my ears because we’ve learned from personal experience that no matter how carefully you plan, anticipating all the expenses that come with having a young child is nearly impossible.
Coupled with state action
This bill’s impacts could be amplified by state action as well. Washington State Sen. Joe Nguyen and State Rep. Debra Entenman have introduced a proposal for a new Working Families Tax Credit. It would provide a rebate on the state’s high sales tax for low- and moderate-income families like mine and also extend the tax credit to full-time family caregivers, low-income college students, and immigrant workers.
A priority for elected officials?
The Working Families Tax Relief Act and the Washington Working Families Tax Credit would help reduce the financial strain facing millions of moms, like me, with young children. I hope the Working Families Tax Relief Act is as high a priority for Congress as it is for us, and the Washington State Legislature will make the Working Families Tax Credit the centerpiece of the 2020 legislative session. It’s time to ensure that working families share in the rewards of a strong economy, and to ease the financial stress so many moms with young kids face.
Cori Domschot is a mother living in Olympia and a member of MomsRising.
Information in this piece is from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Working Families Tax Relief Act Would Help 46 Million Households, Cut Poverty and Deep Poverty.”