Children’s HealthWatch Launches Healthy Families Tax Credits Coalition Campaign

Originally posted on Boston Medical Center.

 BOSTON – Last week, the Healthy Families Tax Credits Coalition launched its campaign to boost family incomes and improve health for children and families across the Commonwealth through improvements to state refundable tax credits. Following years of advocacy to expand the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low- and moderate-income workers, the coalition’s reinvigorated platform now includes passing a robust and near-universal Child and Family Tax Credit (CFTC).

“Our comprehensive agenda focuses on two of the largest and most effective tax credits for ensuring families with low and moderate incomes have the resources they need to thrive” says Charlotte Bruce, Senior Research and Policy Analyst of Children’s HealthWatch and co-lead of the coalition. “This campaign also builds upon recent proposals from the Legislature and Governor to provide tax equity and relief to families across the Commonwealth.”

Specifically, the campaign seeks to (1) increase the state EITC from 30% to 50% of the federal credit; (2) extend state EITC eligibility to immigrant filers with Individual Tax Identification Numbers; (3) establish a robust CFTC for all dependents with a value of at least $600 per dependent; (4) remove the large family penalty for EITC and the new CFTC; (5) improve access to tax benefits for low and moderate income households through investments in free tax preparation.

In July, the Legislature unanimously supported an economic development package that would have provided permanent tax relief for households with low and moderate incomes through an increase of the state EITC and removal of the large family penalty along with streamlining existing tax credits into a new credit similar to our proposed Child and Family Tax Credit. During her campaign, Governor Healey outlined a child and family tax credit proposal that would take the same streamlined approach as the economic development bill and provide families with an annual refundable credit of $600 per dependent.

“We are thrilled to work with the new Administration and our longtime House and Senate champions to pass meaningful and inclusive tax relief that improves the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of families in the Commonwealth” says Allison Bovell-Ammon, Director of Policy and Communications for Children’s HealthWatch and co-lead of the coalition.

During last week’s consensus revenue hearing, panelists noted that recent tax collections remain strong and also the threat of recession. “Regardless of the direction of the economy, lawmakers eyeing tax reform would do well to increase the Child and Family Tax Credit,” said Phineas Baxandall, Policy Director at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. “Legislative leaders and candidate Healey have endorsed increasing the credit as a way to help struggling families cope with rising living costs. If the economy slows, the need to help these families will be even greater.” says Phineas Baxandall, Policy Director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.”

In addition to a CFTC, the coalition is pushing to expand eligibility for the state EITC for working immigrants who pay taxes using an Individual Tax Identification Number. The coalition is also advocating for a coordinated and robust outreach campaign to ensure that everyone eligible for the credits actually claim them. “Since the late 1970’s wages have not kept up with productivity, causing the wage gap to widen. The EITC and other tax credits address this, make work pay, and help low and middle-income workers to pay off debt, cover rental costs, fix cars, buy food, invest in small businesses, save, and plan for a hopeful future,” said Joe Diamond, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association for Community Action (MASSCAP).  “The 80 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites operating in Massachusetts constitute a platform for prosperity and while they help over 30,000 low wage tax payers access the EITC and other tax credits, our goal, with the help of state agencies and allied organizations, is to reach the 75,000 plus who qualify for these resources but do not access them.”


About The Healthy Families Tax Credits Coalition

The Healthy Families Tax Credits Coalition is a statewide network of advocates working to improve the health and well-being of Massachusetts children and families by expanding the state Earned Income Tax Credit and passing a robust and inclusive Child and Family Tax Credit. Formerly known as the Healthy Families EITC Coalition, the network has successfully advocated to increase the state EITC, expand eligibility to survivors of domestic violence and abandoned spouses, and invest over $1.5 million annually to support the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The coalition is led by Children’s HealthWatch at Boston Medical Center and consists of community-based agencies, legal advocates, researchers, professional associations, social service providers, tax preparers, health providers, and Massachusetts workers and their families. A list of supporting organizations is available here.