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Georgia moms earn, deserve tax credit
Wesley Tharpe
Wesley Tharpe is senior policy analyst for the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, - photo by Photo provided.

Working moms are the bedrock of so many Georgia families. Between raising kids, contributing to their communities and holding down one or more jobs, moms put in a lot more than a full day’s work.

That’s one of the many reasons we especially celebrate them today, on Mother’s Day.

It’s also why the federal government has two different income-tax credits designed to deliver an outsized benefit to working mothers. An estimated 894,000 Georgia moms benefit by the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), according to a new report released from the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Those Georgians are among the 21 million working mothers who used the credits to help make ends meet in 2013.

These federal credits are important tools to help mothers pull their families into the middle class — and stay there. The larger of the two credits, the EITC, provides a maximum benefit of about $3,000 to $6,000 to working families with children, depending on family size and income. The money is intended to offset payroll and income taxes for low- and moderate-earners, encouraging them to stay employed. And by boosting incomes, the credits help moms better balance the demands of work and family, such as paying for child care and transportation.

The two tax credits combined to lift 9.4 million people out of poverty in 2013, more than any other federal program besides Social Security. An estimated 400,000 of those recipients lifted out of poverty are Georgians, including about 223,000 children. Evidence also indicates that children in these families perform better in school, are more likely to attend college and earn more as adults once they enter the workforce.

These are among the reasons why the federal credits enjoy a broad base of support, including endorsements from U.S. Chamber of Commerce; U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; and President Barack Obama.

But this Mother’s Day, they’re in jeopardy.

Important improvements to the two tax credits passed during the Great Recession, but some key provisions are set to expire at the end of 2017. Unless Congress acts, millions of Americans, including an estimated 639,000 Georgia families, will lose some or all of the benefits.

So this Mother’s Day, let’s show moms how much we value them with support for these crucial policies. Make time to send a note or place a call to your federal representatives saying you want to see these parts of the EITC and CTC become permanent.

You could also let your representatives to the Georgia General Assembly know they can support these mom-friendly policies close to home.
Half of all states and the District of Columbia use their own “add-on” versions to the federal credit to boost family incomes by up to another few hundred dollars per year.

Georgia isn’t one of them, but lawmakers can change that when the Legislature returns in 2016. A Georgia EITC could benefit nearly 1.1 million Georgia taxpayers, many of them working moms with dependent children.

It’d be a common sense, bottom-up income tax cut worthy of bipartisan support.

Whether on the state or federal level, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are among the most pro-mother, pro-family policies around. We should protect and strengthen the benefits. Because Georgia moms earn it.

This column was distributed by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, which bills itself as an independent think tank that seeks to build a more-prosperous Georgia by analyzing budget and tax policies and providing education to inspire informed debate and responsible decision-making.

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