For Immediate Release
April 1, 2019
Recent poll reinforces Michigan League for Public Policy’s efforts to uphold and expand bipartisan tool to prevent poverty, promote work
LANSING—As the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) returns to the policy spotlight and Capitol discussions, Michigan residents’ support for the credit and its benefits remains high—including for fully expanding it back to 20 percent of the federal EITC—according to a recent poll by EPIC-MRA.
In early March, the Michigan League for Public Policy included a few questions on the Michigan EITC on an EPIC-MRA poll to gauge residents’ current support of the valuable credit. When told about the EITC and asked to rate their general feelings toward it, 61 percent of Michiganders responded favorably to the credit. And when informed of the 2011 cut to the state EITC from 20 percent of the federal credit to 6 percent, and asked if they support restoring the EITC, 67 percent of residents favored bumping it back up to its original level.
“In 2011, the League and a broad coalition of advocates had to fight tooth and nail to keep the Michigan EITC on the books, and ever since, the credit and the working families that rely on it have been quietly surviving and waiting for a better political climate to come,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, President and CEO for the Michigan League for Public Policy. “The governor embracing the state EITC and proposing to double it has reinvigorated bipartisan interest in the credit, and the League hopes that interest will include not just increasing it, but expanding it. The current state EITC is helping many workers and families, but too many residents and kids are still struggling with poverty and missing out on its benefits.”
The federal and state EITC support and encourage work, combat poverty, boost local economies, and help improve racial equity by reducing some of the impacts of systemic racism. The EITC has long been a focal point of the League’s efforts to reduce poverty, and two new fact sheets look at ways to boost the Michigan credit’s benefits to state workers and local communities, including expanding eligibility of the state EITC to workers without children in their household.
Allowing workers without children to receive the Michigan EITC will help a variety of residents, including college students with low incomes, young adults just starting their careers, and noncustodial parents and their children who don’t live with them full time. With more than one-quarter of Michiganders aged 18-24 living in poverty, and many more struggling to make ends meet, expanding Michigan’s EITC could go a long way to helping young workers. About 129,000 Michiganders, including 1,000 children, would benefit from this expansion, too. Nearly 3 in 4 kids (73 percent) in Michigan with young parents ages 18-24 live in households with low incomes. Boosting incomes of young parents, including noncustodial parents, directly improves lives of kids.
“The Earned Income Tax Credit has had the support of Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan in the past, and I hope that it will have the support of Mike Shirkey and Lee Chatfield in the future,” Jacobs said. “All parties seem to agree that we need to help struggling workers, and the EITC is a proven way to do that, and broadening the credit only expands its positive impact.”
In addition to looking at ways to help more workers with the Michigan EITC, the League also takes a closer look at an overhaul of the credit that follows the trend of federal legislation. The proposed Cost-of-Living Refund would provide a $1,200 basic credit or up to 50 percent of the federal EITC and expands income eligibility to $75,000 for workers with kids–$37,500 for individuals without children. The Cost-of-Living Refund would also be expanded to young workers aged 19 and up who don’t have children, caregivers for young children under 6, relatives with a disability or elderly family members.
More than 1 in 3 Michigan households would benefit from the Cost-of-Living Refund, including 3.6 million residents and 1.4 million kids. The average state EITC is currently $150, and that average amount would rise to $1,297 for the Cost-of-Living Refund. And much like current EITC recipients, the money from the Cost-of-Living Refund would still stay in communities and local economies, being used for things like groceries, bills, car repairs, child care, and more.
Expanding the Michigan EITC is a part of the League’s Owner’s Manual for Michigan proactive agenda as well as its 2020 State Budget Priorities. Doubling the state EITC from six percent to 12 percent of the federal credit was one of many big positives in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 2020 state budget proposal, and it has generated renewed interest in the credit around the Capitol.
The Michigan League for Public Policy, www.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.