Group pushing Earned Income Tax Credit for W.Va.




The state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) could help West Virginians who work but struggle to get by on low wages, according to Seth DiStefano, Campaign Coordinator for the EITC supporters. This would be similar to the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit that is already in effect.

The group, which has been endorsed by several organizations across the state, says the EITC would also help with reducing poverty, increasing tax fairness, and boosting local economies across the state.

“Right now we have 39 organizations who have endorsed the campaign to bring a refundable state income tax credit to W.Va.,” DiStefano said.

“Those organizations include the Center on Budget and Policy, W.Va. Chapter of National Association of Social Workers, The W.Va. Bankers Association, United Way of Southern W.Va. and many others,” he added.

Locally, the Coalfield Community Action Partnership in Mingo County and the Coalfield Development Corporation have endorsed the movement.

“At the end of the day – what you are talking about with an EITC – is people who work and have earnings would qualify,” DiStefano stressed. “We need to support people who are working in every single way we can.”

“The EITC is especially good because it zeroes in on those people who are working, but they are not making a lot of money,” DiStefano said.

The organization believes this money can be invested in transportation for workers, childcare and other investments families may need to make. They say it will keep people on the job.

“I think for southern W.Va. this make a lot of sense,” DiStefano said. “Because it is something we can do as a state to get economic activity going right now. We need a multi-faceted plan for W.Va. I don’t think anyone can disagree with that. We need to be thinking 10 years down the road.”

For Senate District Six, which includes Mingo County, WVEITC estimates that this could boost the average working family income by $332. The same estimate would be for District seven, which includes Logan County. The estimates for annual economic activity from creating a state EITC could bring more than $3.5 million to District Six and $2.7 million for District Seven, according to figures provided by DiStefano.

His organization stresses three things on how a state EITC works for the state economy. They are:

  • · Let’s low and moderate income working families keep more of their earnings to help pay for things that helps them keep working, such as child care and transportation
  • · Reduces the number of children living in poverty and improves kids’ chance of success as adults
  • · Helps low-wage workers keep more of their income and increases consumer spending which boosts local economies across the state

“Just the economic impact is a solid argument why this is good for southern W.Va.,” DiStefano stated. “When this money gets spent, it supports the other businesses in a community.”

“In southern W.Va. we need to jump start the economy,” he added.

“One of the great things about expanding the EITC, it is very good for kids,” DiStefano stressed.

Linda Frame, Communications Director for the group, said they have been traveling around W.Va. trying to get support for the measure. They are working toward the 2017 Legislative Session.

“We are really fortunate to have had bipartisan support on last year’s bill,” she said. The lead sponsor for the bill is Republican Delegate Matthew Rohrbach.

“There are members of every facet in the coalition who support this,” DiStefano said. “That really helps policy makers.”

“We hope to get it through the House and Senate next year,” Frame added.

“It has a lot of positive benefits,” DiStefano said.

For more information on the EITC you can visit the website at http://investinwvfamilies.org/

(Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Civitas Media Mountain District including the Williamson Daily News and Logan Banner. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)

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