Cover image of a familyFederal Earned Income Tax Credit: What Legislators Need to Know

The long-standing federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) puts cash into the hands of working poor families. Nationally, the federal EITC delivered $59 billion to lower income workers in 2010 and helped lift more working families out of poverty than any other federal program.

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Federal EITC: Seven Points to Remember


  1. The tax credit is an opportunity to serve low-income families and communities everywhere and reduces the tax burden on your constituents.
  2. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates that 20 percent of eligible workers do not claim the tax credit.
  3. The credit is based on income and the number of children per household. Families with one child and an income of less than $36,052 (or $41,132 if married filing jointly) can receive up to $3,094. Families with three or more children and an income of less than $43,998 ($49,078 if married filing jointly) can receive up to $5,751.
  4. Workers without qualifying children may be eligible as well.
  5. Regardless of tax liability, a return must be filed in order to receive the EITC as a refund.
  6. Free tax preparation services can significantly increase the number of eligible workers who claim the credit.
  7. Twenty-five state EITC programs offer additional benefits; however, program eligibility requirements vary. 


Federal EITC: What State Legislators Can Do

  • Connect with your state or local EITC outreach campaign.  Many neighborhoods, cities or states already have campaigns—or create your own. 
    (To locate a campaign near you, visit

  • Include information in emails, letters and on your website, and publicize the credit through your social media networks. 

  • Talk about EITC at town hall meetings or other events.

  • Visit a free tax preparation program and invite constituents and reporters. Low- to moderate-income workers, the elderly, and members of the military and their families are eligible for free tax assistance. To find a site near you, call the IRS at (800) 906-9887.

  • Involve local businesses in EITC outreach.

For More Information:

Rochelle Finzel
National Conference of State Legislatures
7700 East First Place
Denver, CO 80230
(303) 364-7700

Sheri Steisel and Emily Wengrovius
National Conference of State Legislatures
444 North Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 515
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 624-5400

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This brochure is a special project of the Women’s Legislative Network of NCSL made possible by funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.