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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Maag, Elaine; Werner, Kevin; Wheaton, Laura
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2019

    The federal earned income tax credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit that provides substantial benefits to low-income working families with children at home but little to those without resident children. But families without resident children also struggle, including noncustodial parents, who are often considered “childless” for tax purposes. We model a plan that would increase the maximum childless EITC to almost half the size of the maximum EITC for one-child families and that would begin to phase the childless EITC out at the same income level used for families with children. This would improve parity between people with and without children at home, filling a gap in existing credit benefits. It could also improve noncustodial parents’ economic well-being and increase their capacity to support their children. (Excerpt from author introduction)

    The federal earned income tax credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit that provides substantial benefits to low-income working families with children at home but little to those without resident children. But families without resident children also struggle, including noncustodial parents, who are often considered “childless” for tax purposes. We model a plan that would increase the maximum childless EITC to almost half the size of the maximum EITC for one-child families and that would begin to phase the childless EITC out at the same income level used for families with children. This would improve parity between people with and without children at home, filling a gap in existing credit benefits. It could also improve noncustodial parents’ economic well-being and increase their capacity to support their children. (Excerpt from author introduction)

  • Individual Author: Johnson, Nicholas; Wancheck, John; Greenstein, Robert
    Reference Type: Stakeholder Resource
    Year: 2007

    The federal Earned Income Tax Credit is a tax credit for low- and moderate-income working families.  The EITC is widely hailed for its success in subsidizing work, reducing poverty and making the tax code fairer.  For these reasons, 20 states have enacted EITCs that piggyback on the federal credit and thereby further its successes.  Other states are considering similar measures. 

    The federal EITC, however, is sometimes is criticized for having a high rate of overpayments.  Based on these reports of overpayment rates, some state policymakers have questioned the wisdom of enacting a state version of the federal EITC. 

    In fact, overpayment reports tend to exaggerate the actual level of overpayments.  In part this is because of methodological problems in the IRS studies of 1999 and 2001 upon which the current overpayment rate estimates are based.  In addition, significantly improved enforcement efforts by the IRS and legislative changes enacted since 2001, the year on which current IRS estimates of overpayments are based, should have resulted in a decline in...

    The federal Earned Income Tax Credit is a tax credit for low- and moderate-income working families.  The EITC is widely hailed for its success in subsidizing work, reducing poverty and making the tax code fairer.  For these reasons, 20 states have enacted EITCs that piggyback on the federal credit and thereby further its successes.  Other states are considering similar measures. 

    The federal EITC, however, is sometimes is criticized for having a high rate of overpayments.  Based on these reports of overpayment rates, some state policymakers have questioned the wisdom of enacting a state version of the federal EITC. 

    In fact, overpayment reports tend to exaggerate the actual level of overpayments.  In part this is because of methodological problems in the IRS studies of 1999 and 2001 upon which the current overpayment rate estimates are based.  In addition, significantly improved enforcement efforts by the IRS and legislative changes enacted since 2001, the year on which current IRS estimates of overpayments are based, should have resulted in a decline in overpayments that is not reflected in the error rate estimates.  Finally, as explained below, IRS’ efforts to reduce EITC overpayments are growing more effective each year, and in February the Administration submitted EITC simplification proposals to Congress that would shrink overpayments further.

    EITCs at both the federal and state level function quite well despite the overpayment problem.  Administrative costs are very low (with most of the administrative work being carried out at the federal level), and the rate of participation among eligible families is quite high.  Numerous tax policy experts have voiced strong support for the credit.   Current IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, for instance, calls the EITC “one of the government’s most successful anti-poverty programs” even as he has expressed a strong desire to reduce overpayments and has intensified IRS efforts to do so. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Wheaton, Laura; Sorensen, Elaine
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2009

    This paper examines the noncustodial parent earned income tax credit (NCP EITC), a new type of credit recently enacted in New York and Washington, D.C. and proposed by Senator Bayh and then-Senator Obama in 2007. The NCP EITC offers an earned income tax credit to low-income noncustodial parents who work and pay their full child support. This paper describes the rationale for this policy and provides national estimates of the benefits and costs of an NCP EITC under three alternative policy scenarios. It also discusses several key design and implementation issues.(author abstract)

    This paper examines the noncustodial parent earned income tax credit (NCP EITC), a new type of credit recently enacted in New York and Washington, D.C. and proposed by Senator Bayh and then-Senator Obama in 2007. The NCP EITC offers an earned income tax credit to low-income noncustodial parents who work and pay their full child support. This paper describes the rationale for this policy and provides national estimates of the benefits and costs of an NCP EITC under three alternative policy scenarios. It also discusses several key design and implementation issues.(author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Book, Leslie
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2006

    This article analyzes the government’s increased use of the tax system to deliver benefits to the working poor. The hybrid in this article is the earned income tax credit (EITC), one of the country’s largest anti-poverty programs. The EITC is hybrid in that it is administered in the tax system but is increasingly redistributive, like traditional welfare programs. It reveals that the hybrid tax and welfare nature of the delivery of benefits to the working poor through the tax system results in some significant benefits, such as higher participation and lower administrative costs, but also a weakness in the form of increased errors and fraud. With the EITC’s error rate up to five times as high as other benefits’ programs, the IRS has undertaken radical efforts at reducing error, efforts that are alien to the tax system, like precertifying eligibility before receipt of a tax benefit, and indefinite freezes of refunds without sufficient notice or hearing that are alien to traditional due process protections. The backfire risk is that the continued high error rates will weaken support...

    This article analyzes the government’s increased use of the tax system to deliver benefits to the working poor. The hybrid in this article is the earned income tax credit (EITC), one of the country’s largest anti-poverty programs. The EITC is hybrid in that it is administered in the tax system but is increasingly redistributive, like traditional welfare programs. It reveals that the hybrid tax and welfare nature of the delivery of benefits to the working poor through the tax system results in some significant benefits, such as higher participation and lower administrative costs, but also a weakness in the form of increased errors and fraud. With the EITC’s error rate up to five times as high as other benefits’ programs, the IRS has undertaken radical efforts at reducing error, efforts that are alien to the tax system, like precertifying eligibility before receipt of a tax benefit, and indefinite freezes of refunds without sufficient notice or hearing that are alien to traditional due process protections. The backfire risk is that the continued high error rates will weaken support for the EITC, and threaten its continued existence.

    The article provides a framework for the government to reduce errors through shifting additional costs to third parties, as well as to reduce the incentives for individuals themselves to attempt to game the system and cheat. The article builds on my prior scholarship that integrated a sociological typology of noncompliance, and continues with my focus on presenting policymakers with an opportunity to evaluate efforts to reduce errors based upon an understanding as to what drives cheating and errors in the tax system.

    The EITC’s hybrid status in and of itself does not reveal policy options to reduce cheating or error; rather, the unique characteristics of the tax system’s eligibility and delivery process present opportunities to reduce error and eliminate cheating without eliminating the EITC’s low administrative cost and high participation benefits. In particular, the government should impose additional costs on return preparers, third parties that benefit from the EITC’s placement in the tax system. In addition, the article reveals how reducing structural incentives for taxpayers themselves to game the system can materially reduce error rates without sacrificing other policy goals. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Miller, Cynthia; Katz, Lawrence F.; Azurdia, Gilda; Isen, Adam; Schultz, Caroline
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2017

    This report presents interim findings from the test of Paycheck Plus in New York City, presenting the proportion of participants who actually received the expanded credit in the first two years, and the credit’s effects over that time on income, work, earnings, tax filing, and child support payments. The findings are consistent with research on the federal EITC showing that an expanded credit can increase after-transfer incomes and encourage employment without creating work disincentives. Later reports will examine effects after three years on income, work, and other measures of well-being, in both New York City and Atlanta. (Edited author executive summary)

    This report presents interim findings from the test of Paycheck Plus in New York City, presenting the proportion of participants who actually received the expanded credit in the first two years, and the credit’s effects over that time on income, work, earnings, tax filing, and child support payments. The findings are consistent with research on the federal EITC showing that an expanded credit can increase after-transfer incomes and encourage employment without creating work disincentives. Later reports will examine effects after three years on income, work, and other measures of well-being, in both New York City and Atlanta. (Edited author executive summary)

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