Power of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015

Congress on Friday passed a bill that will boost local economies and change the lives of millions of working Americans, improving family financial stability and positioning children for a lifetime of success. The bipartisan, Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 made permanent some tax credits for businesses and working families. While not perfect, the package saves the current version of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit representing a big win for working families, and supports charitable giving in local communities. Now eligible American workers will have permanent access to the full Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which will significantly benefit communities and businesses around the country.  

The EITC and CTC are among our nation’s most effective pro-work, anti-poverty tools, putting families on a path to success and independence. The EITC is one of the most successful initiatives for moving mothers from welfare to work. It is so successful that every president over the last 40 years has expanded it with bipartisan support. The refundable aspect of the CTC is similarly designed to encourage and reward work.  

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These refundable working family tax credits allow parents to keep more of what they earn, and the stabilizing effect helps children and families far beyond the timeframe during which families claim the credits. Studies show that the EITC improves child health and academic achievement, increasing the likelihood of college attendance and success in adulthood. Additionally, these tax credits pump money into local economies, helping to support local business owners.  

At United Way, we witness firsthand the tremendous impact of the credits through our more than 380 local United Ways around the country that help people connect to the EITC and CTC through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites and MyFreeTaxes.com. In 2015, United Way-supported VITA efforts completed nearly two million returns leading to $2.35 Billion coming back to communities, including more than $681 million in EITC.    

But beyond the numbers, United Ways see the faces of the people who are more financially stable because of the EITC and CTC, like the returning veteran’s family of five in Reno, Nevada, or the newly single mother in Jacksonville, Florida. United Way is committed to helping working families keep more of what they earn through accurate free filing, and Congress should be commended for holding up its end of the deal by keeping the credits whole.

Thank you, Congress, for passing such critical bipartisan tax legislation. Now, all two million military and veteran families, and 4.8 million rural families claiming the credits will continue to have full access. And the 16 million Americans in working families -- including eight million children – who were expected to fall into poverty without Congressional action, will now have greater financial stability moving forward. 

If key provisions of the EITC and CTC had expired, the impact to working Americans would have be tangible and immense, and private charity would not have been able to fill the gap. The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax credit have a history of bipartisan support, of fighting poverty and incentivizing work. The decision to pass the tax package grants millions of Americans the opportunity to thrive in the coming year, and for many years beyond.  

Taylor is the senior vice president and counsel for Public Policy for United Way Worldwide.

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