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What is the proposed Working Families Tax Credit? Could it make New York more affordable for families?

A proposed bill would help New York families struggling with the high cost of living.

The Working Families Tax Credit bill combines the Empire State Child Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the dependent exemption into a single tax credit. A University of Washington report finds almost two of five households in New York cannot afford basic needs.

Liza Schwartzwald, director of economic justice and family empowerment for the New York Immigration Coalition, pointed out the tax credits are not effective in their current form.

“The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit have a very, very harmful phase-in,” Schwartzwald explained. “Which means that if you make very little money, if you’re one of our poorest families, you actually get very little to nothing from those credits.”

The bill was previously brought before the Legislature with no success, but Schwartzwald noted elected officials have learned the effects the bill can have. Now, she wants to garner support for the bill to pass this year. Some changes made since the bill was first introduced include a five-year implementation plan and adding a dependent exemption since it lowers the overall bill’s cost.

Congress is taking up legislation to expand the Child Tax Credit once again. Although it will not be as big as it was during the pandemic, it could still lift families out of poverty.

Schwartzwald argued the Working Families Tax Credit and the expanded Child Tax Credit would greatly benefit New York families.

“If you’re a single parent and you’re able to receive both the federal expanded tax credit, however that might look, and a bigger, better Working Families Tax Credit, those are your bills that are being paid,” Schwartzwald emphasized. “You can spend a little time with your kid at night instead of working three minimum-wage jobs.”

She added parents should be trusted to know what their kids need. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated Congress’ proposed Child Tax Credit expansion would lift around 400,000 children out of poverty. An additional 3 million children would be less poor in the credit’s first year.