A 21st Century EITC

Fighting Poverty in an Age of Income Volatility

Anti-poverty policy remains a flashpoint in American policy and politics. Among the fray, however, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has distinguished itself as an example of policy done right. In 2013, over 27 million working households received the EITC and over 6 million people, including 3 million children, were lifted out of poverty. Through strong ties to work and meaningful benefits, the EITC has helped fight poverty while earning support from both left and right.

But, in an age of intense financial fragility, with millions of American households living in poverty, with volatile incomes and no meaningful savings, can we further improve the effectiveness of the EITC?

Families struggle to keep the bills paid and build a financial buffer all year long, yet the EITC arrives in one annual lump sum. Would financial well-being be improved if the EITC were delivered over time, rather than arriving in one big check? The mismatch between the needs of striving families and the delivery of the EITC has led to the proposal of several new, creative solutions. A new pilot project from Chicago, supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and led by the Center for Economic Progress, explores the idea of delivering the EITC quarterly in advance of the typical tax filing deadline. The Center for American Progress proposed a partial early refund as a way to promote financial stability. The Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) recently unveiled a proposal for a deferred EITC, others have proposed replacing the EITC with a wage subsidy. And, beyond timing, how else could we revise the reach of the EITC to improve its reach and impact?

Please join us and a panel of experts as we explore ways to reimagine the EITC for the 21st century.

Follow the discussion online using #21stCentEITC and following @AssetsNAF.


Melissa Boteach
Vice President, Poverty to Prosperity Program, Center for American Progress

Ike Brannon
Senior Fellow, George W. Bush Institute
President, Capital Policy Analytics

Justin King
Policy Director, Asset Building Program, New America

Ezra Levin
Associate Director, Government Affairs, Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED)

David Marzahl
President & CEO, Center for Economic Progress

Janell Ross
Reporter, The Washington Post
Fellow, New America