The expansion of affordable housing and the Earned Income Tax Credit were the demands of an array of community groups, unions, and consumer watchdogs on Wednesday as they expressed their desires in front of a legislative hearing held at the Bilandic Building in Chicago. State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch of Westchester, House sponsor of an expansion bill, said in a meeting of the Revenue & Finance Committee that “The Earned Income Tax Credit is one of the country’s most effective anti-poverty tools.”
State Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago, the Senate sponsor, favored the EITC’s “very broad bipartisan support.” She said that the expansion would extend it to young, single adults, age 18 through 24, at a cost of $10 million in the first year. After that, it would extend to Illinois, matching rate against the federal program from the current 18 percent to 19 percent next year, then 20 percent after that, at a total cost of $91 million.
Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue, David Harris has also backed the program. He said that the program will provide tax rebates to 881,000 state taxpayers last year, with 1.1 million children and dependents. The expansion of the program will make it eligible workers who are not U.S. citizens and do not have Social Security cards — instead of working under government-issued Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers — would affect an additional 200,000 households with 180,000 children and dependents.
He added that last year, 21,000 Illinoisans had filed for the federal program but not the state’s matching plan, “leaving money on the table.” Harris said, “We know that the Earned Income Tax Credit is one of the best tools available to fight poverty, to lift up working families and create a stronger economy for everyone.”
Harris had worked under President Reagan as she cited how the former President enacted the program in 1986. Harris said that it’s been “expanded by virtually every president since then because it is a policy program that works.”