Obama Pushes To Expand Tax Breaks For Workers Without Children

AP
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President Barack Obama on Tuesday night will announce his support for expanding the tax advantages available to workers without children.

As sketched out by senior administration officials before his State of the Union speech, the president has decided to support an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit for Americans without kids, including non-custodial parents.

“There are other steps we can take to help families make ends meet, and few are more effective at reducing inequality and helping families pull themselves up through hard work than the Earned Income Tax Credit,” Obama will say, according to prepared remarks. “Right now, it helps about half of all parents at some point. But I agree with Republicans like Senator Rubio that it doesn’t do enough for single workers who don’t have kids. So let’s work together to strengthen the credit, reward work, and help more Americans get ahead.”

The EITC — a refundable tax credit available to workers with low to middle incomes — is significantly more generous to those with children. The maximum benefit for the childless is $500, while the benefit for families with children can exceed $6,000, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The president’s proposal is an effort to level that playing field, the officials said, pitching it as an effort to combat poverty and reward hard work.

The initiative comes as a response to a proposal by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to replace the EITC with a federal wage enhancement that expands the tax benefits available to workers without kids. But it would simultaneously reduce tax benefits available to low-income families with children, according to the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In contrast to Obama’s optimistic tone, his administration officials noted that he opposes the specifics of Rubio’s plan because he believes it would end up taking money away from families with children.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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