Rep. Vargas Seeks Expansion of State Earned Income Tax Credit for Those Not Currently Eligible

Rep. Andy X. Vargas, vice chair of the legislative Black and Latino Caucus, spoke during a briefing in support of expanding access to the Earned Income Tax Credit. (State House News Service.)

Immigrant advocates, including Haverhill Rep. Andy X. Vargas, last Thursday lobbied for expanded eligibility of a tax credit that’s seen as a key tool to prevent poverty and improve education outcomes among low-income households.

About 21,000 to 26,000 households that are not currently eligible for the state Earned Income Tax Credit due to their immigration status stand to benefit from the expansion, according to the Healthy Families Tax Credits Coalition.

At a briefing co-hosted by the legislative Black and Latino Caucus, supporters said the provision should be incorporated into the fiscal 2025 budget.

“If we want Massachusetts to continue to be a place where people want to come to work, to provide for our economy, for their families and for others, then the least we can do is to ensure that all taxpayers are treated fairly, and that’s what this message is about,” said Vargas, caucus vice chair. “We’re going to continue to push as hard as we can on this.”

Immigrant workers are required to pay taxes, but often do so using Internal Revenue Service-issued individual taxpayer identification numbers. They do not qualify to claim the credit without a Social Security number, the coalition said. Households whose family members have mixed immigration statuses also are not eligible for the credit.

The policy, if approved, would provide $240 for a single filer and $2,972 for a married couple with three or more qualifying children, according to a February report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. Children in families who qualify for the tax credit have better health outcomes, including healthier birth weights, and better education outcomes, such as being more likely to graduate high school and attend college.

Expanding Earned Income Tax Credit eligibility would cost the state between $22.6 million to $28 million, the coalition said. Charlotte Bruce, a senior research and policy analyst at Children’s HealthWatch, said lawmakers can afford that amount despite the state’s slumping revenue collections.

“Compared to the size of the budget, that’s a relatively small number to fix a huge inequity,” Bruce told the News Service.

Alison Kuznitz, State House News Service.

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