Earlier this month, the Louisiana Legislature did the right thing in increasing the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 3.5 to 5 percent of the federal credit. This legislation acknowledges the importance of working families to the broader economy and promotes economic opportunity.
The EITC is one of the most fair and just aspects of our tax code. Since 2007, Louisiana’s EITC has been a bipartisan tax credit for working people with low incomes that helps families meet their basic needs while strengthening local communities to the benefit of everyone in Louisiana. The few hundred dollars provided by Louisiana’s EITC allows working people and their families to stay current on bills or to afford a car repair so they can get to work. Annually, about one in three Louisiana tax filers claim the EITC.
The EITC benefits the common good by lowering poverty, reducing low-weight and premature births, improving children’s educational performance and college attendance, as well increasing children’s future earnings as adults. There is a consensus among academic and policy researchers that the EITC promotes work while also improving the economic opportunities of the least among us.
Moving Gulf South states forward means spending on things that benefit all of us and make our communities thrive and not on tax breaks that mostly benefit a few. Whether families have enough to cover basic necessities or communities have good teachers, access to high-quality health care, and first responders who keep us safe should not be determined by a tax code manipulated by the powerful.
When a few at the top receive mind-boggling tax cuts while schools suffer, college costs increase, hospitals get closed, and our communities struggle, then we know our priorities are all wrong.
Furthermore, the EITC helps families to grow and thrive. The EITC contributes to workers’ ability to make a family wage, “a wage sufficient to maintain a family and allow it to live decently.” Similarly, the EITC relaxes the “marriage penalty” for low-income, married workers filing joint tax returns.
Our economy is driven by its people and not special interest groups. It’s never a bad time to invest in the people of the Gulf South. Working people spend their earnings on everything from gas to groceries and haircuts to homes – that spending is what drives business, not tax exemptions. If we cleaned up our tax code we’d have more to invest in the things that create thriving communities and make life easier for families, like increasing the EITC.
 Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (2018). Policy basics: The Earned Income Tax Credit.Retrieved from https://www.cbpp.org/sites/
 Marr, C., Huang, C., Sherman, A., & DeBot, B. (2015). EITC and Child Tax Credit promote work, reduce poverty, and support children’s development, research finds. Washington, D.C.: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Retrieved from https://www.cbpp.org/sites/
 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. (2007). Compendium of the social doctrine of the Church. Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 250.
 National Conference of Catholic Bishops. (2010). Letter to House and Senate on Earned Income and Child Tax Credits.