At its semiannual meeting on March 4, the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) commended bipartisan proposals that offer greater support to families and low-income workers, in particular the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. “Since family systems are important for nurturing healthy individuals and overcoming poverty, public policy should support families and marriages,” the motion states.
“Both the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit are effective tools that nurture family life and care for the vulnerable in America,” said Walter Kim, NAE president. “These programs can both be strengthened and improved to lift even more people out of poverty.”
The foundation for support of these programs comes from the NAE’s longstanding commitments to strengthen marriages, families and children, and to seek justice and compassion for the poor and vulnerable.
The Child Tax Credit provides financial assistance to parents who are raising children. As currently constituted, the full benefit is only received by middle and upper income families, since parents who owe no taxes do not receive the nonrefundable part of the credit. The credit could be improved both by increasing the amount and making it fully available, regardless of the family’s tax liability, and by better targeting it to families of modest means.
The motion states, “Children are a gift from God, and a blessing to our nation. Parents who invest in nurturing children and raising the next generation need and deserve our support. The Child Tax Credit efficiently provides support directly to families rather than establishing new government programs.”
Like the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has enjoyed broad bipartisan support as it aids those in poverty while incentivizing work. While particularly beneficial to families with dependent children, it provides only a tiny benefit of $530 or less to childless low-income adults, who are the only workers who earn incomes above the poverty line, but are then taxed back into poverty. It is currently not available at all to workers under 25 or over 65.
Kim said, “Reforming the EITC to better support childless workers and including workers of all ages could lift millions of Americans out of poverty while enabling them to gain valuable work experience that could lead to higher incomes. This would be particularly helpful to minority workers who represent a disproportionate share of low wage employees.”