The Healthy Families Tax Credits Coalition is a statewide nonpartisan network of advocates working to improve the health and well-being of Massachusetts children and families by expanding the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child and Family Tax Credit (CFTC). Our growing 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 partnership and supporting organizations of the Healthy Families Tax Credits Coalition can be found at the bottom of this page under the “supporting organizations” section.
Formerly known as the Healthy Families EITC Coalition, since 2015 our network has successfully advocated to increase the state EITC, expand eligibility to survivors of domestic violence and abandoned spouses, pass a robust and inclusive CFTC, and invest over $1.5 million annually to support the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
Increase the Massachusetts Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 40% to 50% of the value of federal EITC.
Raising the MA EITC match rate would increase financial resources for working families with low incomes, improving economic stability and children’s health. Research shows that a $1,000 credit reduces incidence of low birth weight and increases birth weight. A 50% match would deliver an average benefit of $1,050 to Massachusetts families.
Extend eligibility for the EITC to immigrants who file taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN).
Despite paying taxes, immigrant workers who pay and file taxes using an ITIN are excluded from claiming the EITC. Extending eligibility would further the equity impact of the credit and create consistency in MA refundable family tax credits. It would also position the state in line with D.C. and nine states – including our New England neighbors Maine and Vermont – that include ITIN filers in state EITCs.
Remove the dependent cap in the EITC.
Currently, the value of the EITC increases with family size, but only up to three children. Holding all else equal, a family with two children will receive the same credit as a family with four children. This unfairly penalizes larger families. For all households eligible for the EITC, the match should increase by 5 percentage points for each child above three children. This would mean a 5% increase for a household with four children, a 10% increase for a household with five
Index the Child and Family Tax Credit to inflation, thereby protecting its value over time.
The Child and Family Tax Credit will provide $310 per dependent in tax year 2023 and increase to $440 per dependent in tax year 2024. However, the credit is not slated to increase again thereafter. Indexation is essential to prevent erosion of the Child and Family Tax Credit over time. Increases in inflation over the last several years underscore the need to index tax credits and other benefits to inflation. Since 2018, the federal Child Tax Credit has lost 15 percent of its real value to inflation. This is particularly important to protect families with low incomes, who spend an outsize proportion of their budget on necessities like groceries and utilities.
Increase the Child and Family Tax Credit to at least $600 per dependent.
A benefit that ultimately reaches $600 per dependent will reposition Massachusetts in the top two-thirds of state dependent tax credits – falling behind California, Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Vermont, all of which have passed credits of at least $1,000 per dependent within the past year. A statewide poll found that 77% of Massachusetts residents supported a $600 credit. This widely supported increase would go further in helping families afford necessities and the cost of raising children and caring for other dependents.
Expand Child and Family Tax Credit eligibility to all children under the age of 18.
While the Child and Family Tax Credit is essential for families with children under 13, disabled dependents, and seniors, it excludes families with teenagers from support. Extending credit eligibility to include children of all ages would strengthen this credit and its intent: to provide financial relief to families with dependents in the Commonwealth. Extending age eligibility would recognize that costs of raising children do not stop when they become teenagers. In fact, family expenses can often increase as a child ages. For example, teenagers require more food to fuel their quickly growing bodies.
Improve access to refundable family tax credits through sustained funding for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and a robust communications and outreach campaign.
In Massachusetts, 20% of families eligible for the EITC do not claim the credit. Sustained VITA funding and a widely disseminated outreach and communication campaign on refundable tax credits would ensure that more households receive the credit. It would also protect families from for-profit tax preparers’ often exorbitant fees to claim the EITC and CFTC.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
The EITC is a benefit for working individuals and families with low to moderate income that reduces the amount of taxes they owe and may even provide them with a refund. It is a tax policy critical in reducing the financial burden of low-income families and has the potential to decrease food insecurity and increase health through shifting income towards spending on healthy meals and necessary medical care.
Child and Family Tax Credit (CFTC)
The new CFTC combines prior dependent credits into a single, streamlined refundable tax credit for families with children under age 13, disabled dependents, senior dependents 65+, and/or spouses who are unable to care for themselves. The credit is worth $310 per dependent in tax year 2023 and will increase to $440 per dependent in tax year 2024. The credit is universal (no income minimum), inclusive of immigrants who file taxes using an ITIN, and does not have a cap on the number of dependents who can be claimed.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Sites
The VITA program offers free tax help to people who generally make $60,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. Often located at community-based organization, IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. VITA sites also offer financial education and connect families with low incomes to other critical services, strengthening families and the local economy. VITA sites are a low-cost and high return activity offering an up to 60 to 1 return on investment. In a typical year, over 30,000 individuals are served by the 80 existing VITA sites across Massachusetts, and the services that sites provide results in $60 million in tax credits for taxpayers. Increasing awareness of these programs and increasing state funding will expand the capacity and reach of this essential and evidence-based program.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- The EITC lifts children out of poverty by putting more money back into families’ pockets.
- In 2018, the federal EITC kept 5.6 million people – over half of them children – out of poverty.
- The EITC lowers overall income inequality by 5-10% in a typical year, with a greater impact for Black households who are overrepresented in the bottom half of income distribution.
- Children who live in households that receive the EITC have better school performance, greater college enrollment, and increased work and earnings in adulthood.
- Research shows that these academic achievement benefits are amplified with the size of the EITC received, with some suggestion that the benefit of larger EITCs are greater for children of color.
- Expansions in the EITC have been strongly associated with a decrease in infants born with low birth weights among pregnant women eligible for the credit. This relationship is significant because low birth weight is damaging to the long-term health and developmental potential of children and costly to the health system, yet few medical interventions are available that effectively reduce the risk of low birth weight.
- Children in families receiving the EITC have fewer behavioral health problems, such as anxiety and depression.
- EITC payments are associated with lower state-level rates of child maltreatment reports. For each additional $1,000 in per-child EITC and CTC refunds, state-level rates of reported maltreatment declined in the week of and 4 weeks following by an estimated 5%.
- Mothers receiving the EITC are more likely to have signs of good health, including lower risk of high blood pressure and inflammation and reduced reports of depression and stress.
- EITC helps families maintain extended caregiving arrangements.
- Supplemental EITC programs have been found to increase health-related quality of life and longevity among people with low incomes.
Child and Family Tax Credit (CFTC)
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 temporarily expanded the value of the federal Child Tax Credit (CTC) and – mirroring the structure of the MA CFTC – made the credit fully refundable and available to families with no earned income. This change was transformational and temporarily reduced child poverty by 46 percent. Research from Children’s HealthWatch found that the advance CTC helped families catch up on rent and improved health. Though not offered in advance periodic payments, this research may demonstrate the impact that a robust state Child and Family Tax Credit may have in Massachusetts. In 2024, the Healthy Families Tax Credits Coalition will work to measure the impact of the new CFTC.
Use the dashboard below to see the economic impact and number of dependents eligible for the Child and Family Tax Credit by legislative district.
Select the “Your District,” tab and choose the district from the dropdown. The “Benefits” tab shows the dollars that will be available for families in tax year 2023 and 2024. The “Dependents” table displays the district’s number of eligible dependent children under 13, the number of eligible adult dependents, and the percent of the district’s population that is eligible for the $600 credit.
The tabs, labeled “MA House” and “MA Senate,” display maps of the House and Senate districts. Hover (hold your cursor over) any legislative district on the map to display data for that district.