The GOP-led Michigan Senate Finance Committee heard testimony Wednesday from numerous individuals backing a bill that would increase the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 6% to 10% by 2024.
The EITC aims to help low-wage earners get out of poverty and impacts families across Michigan.
Senate Bill 417, introduced by state Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), would enable taxpayers to take a credit out of their individual income tax at a rate equivalent to the federal EITC in the same year.
The tax credit was originally chopped under former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. He proposed cutting the tax from 20% to 6% to help pay for his $2 billion corporate tax cut, which the GOP-led Legislature passed in 2011.
Democrats have proposed legislation for years increasing the EITC, but it’s so far failed to gain traction in the GOP-controlled Legislature. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s first budget proposal in Fiscal Year 2020, for instance, proposed a gradual boost in the EITC from 6% to 10%.
Schmidt said in the hearing Wednesday that the EITC is a “pro-work tax credit” because it encourages people to work while lifting them out of poverty.
“The EITC is a hand up, not a hand out,” Schmidt said. “It provides support to low-income earners and when the EITC has helped serve its purpose and help lift the family out of poverty and income has increased, they no longer qualify for it.”
According to research from the nonpartisan Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) in 2019, over 757,000 Michigan families who were raising more than 1 million children, received a state EITC average at $145 in 2015.
Monique Stanton, MLPP President and CEO, noted that increasing the Michigan EITC will mean about $443 million for families, specifically helping families with children, people of color and those in rural areas.
“We have continued to advocate for restoration of the credit — or improvements beyond — ever since, and we are excited to see the issue getting traction today,” Stanton said.
“By putting money in the pockets of families with the highest need, Michiganders receiving the EITC tend to spend their refunds on immediate expenses, like groceries, child care, utilities, rent, car repairs and more, putting the money back into our local communities. And the credit has significant immediate and long-term benefits for families with children.”
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