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N.J. lawmakers: Boost federal tax credits for working poor

Thursday, October 27, 2016   (0 Comments)
Share | 10/27/16

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and New Jersey anti-poverty advocates on Tuesday threw their support behind federal proposals to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless low-income workers. The three competing proposals to expand the federal tax credit would benefit 343,000 to 504,000 additional New Jerseyans, according to New Jersey Policy Perspective. All of the plans would open the program to additional workers from 21 to 25 years old and increase the maximum possible credits from the current $506 to between $1,000 and $1,500, depending on the proposal.

At present levels, a low-wage worker without dependent children can receive no more than $683 from the state and federal programs, according to Policy Perspective. The various plans would boost that by $667 to $1,342, the report said. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), along with Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), are behind the most generous expansion, which would lower the age of eligibility to 21 years, raise the maximum credit to $1,500 and allow more workers to qualify for that higher credit. At least 122,000 New Jersey workers 21 to 24 years old would be newly eligible, according to the report. It would also raise eligibility at the other end from 65 to 66 years old.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature and Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, recently agreed to raise the tax credit for the second time in as many years as part of the transportation funding tax package. The state tax credit will rise from 30 percent of the federal credit to 35 percent. Advocates said that will be a help to workers raising children, but the existing program is severely limited for those who are not, with no benefits going to those under 25 years old. The state credit, which piggybacks on the federal one, would get a boost as well from expanding at the federal level.

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