May 01, 2020

Wyden, Merkley Call For Tax Credit Expansion to Help Working Families During Coronavirus Economic Downturn

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today called for a temporary expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) in the next coronavirus relief package.

As the economic effects of COVID-19 are expected to last into next year, the expansion of those two tax credits would put money back in the pockets of working Americans as they continue to weather the economic downturn, according to the letter from Wyden, Merkley and 37 other senators to Senate leadership.

“COVID-19 has presented our nation with an unprecedented public health challenge,” said the letter led by Wyden, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Dick Durbin (D-IL). “This Congress has taken several bipartisan steps to address it, along with the resulting economic effects we’ve already seen. However, additional measures are critical to confront and reverse ongoing economic paralysis.

“The EITC and the CTC are proven and effective tools to increase financial stability for workers and their families,” the senators wrote. “Expanding them will provide much needed support to families and boost our economy as our nation recovers from COVID-19.”

The letter calls for filling gaps in the EITC and CTC that leave out the youngest adult workers, workers not raising children in the home, and the lowest-income families. Currently, the youngest adult workers – including those on the front lines of coronavirus like health aides, grocery store clerks, and truck drivers – are ineligible for the credit. Workers not raising children in the home are only eligible for a small credit. These gaps mean 5 million American workers are taxed into or further into poverty by our current tax code. Expanding the EITC for these workers would fix this.

The letter also calls for making the CTC fully available to all children as a refundable credit and increasing the credit amount for kids under 6 years of age, to provide additional support to children and families at a time in life that is critical for cognitive development. As the economic effects of coronavirus continue, these changes to the CTC will benefit 26 million kids whose families currently cannot receive the full value of the $2,000 credit. 

Today’s letter builds on the senators’ Working Families Tax Relief Act, which would cut taxes for workers and families by expanding the EITC and CTC. EITC and CTC are two of the most effective tools we have to put money in the pockets of working people and pull children out of poverty. Expanding them will give millions more Americans a foothold in the middle class.

In addition to Wyden, Merkley, Brown, Bennet and Durbin, the letter was also signed by Sens. Baldwin (D-WI), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Cardin (D-MD), Casey (D-PA), Coons (D-DE), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Duckworth (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Harris (D-CA), Hassan (D-NH), Heinrich (D-NM), Hirono (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), King (D-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Markey (D-MA), Menendez (D-NJ), Murphy (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Rosen (D-NV), Schatz (D-HI), Shaheen (D-NH), Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Udall (D-NM), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warner (D-VA), Warren (D-MA), and Whitehouse (D-RI).

A copy of the letter is here.