Making Ends Meet Shouldn’t Be a Struggle for Working Mainers

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We all agree that people should work hard, and that should be enough to pay their bills. But the fact is that many low-wage workers don’t earn enough to cover basic necessities like groceries, rent, transportation, child care and health care.

United Way of Mid-Maine works to improve the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community, which includes advocating for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This sensible tax credit helps about 62,000 working Mainers keep more of their hard-earned money so they can cover basic expenses without relying on public assistance.

To be eligible for the EITC, recipients have to work. They are home health aides, farm workers, teaching assistants, janitors, cashiers and other low-wage workers. Many recipients are also military families and returning veterans, who rely on the EITC to supplement their transition into the civilian workforce.

The EITC is one of the country’s most successful anti-poverty programs, lifting roughly six million people, including three million children, out of poverty each year. By reducing poverty and increasing income for working families, the EITC has been linked to better health — especially for infants and mothers — and better test scores and achievement for students.

Economic boosters like the EITC ensure that average Mainers have enough money to keep up the basic spending our economy depends on. For every EITC dollar a recipient earns, they return $1.50 to $2.00 to the local economy, paying for basic needs like food or a down payment on a more reliable car to get to work. That’s good for everyone in our community.

The business community supports the EITC, and not just because it gives working families more spending power. The EITC increases workforce participation and encourages low-wage workers to get additional education or training to boost their employability by incentivizing them to move up the economic ladder.

But while the EITC is one of the most effective tools we have to help working families keep their heads above water, it currently excludes millions of workers. Workers not raising children at home receive too small a credit to experience a stabilizing effect, and workers 21-24 (not raising children at home) are completely ineligible.

More than 5 million American workers in this group are actually taxed into poverty, largely because they are excluded from the pro-work, anti-poverty impacts of the EITC.

Today, over 55 United Way leaders from around the country are meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to educate them about the incredible impact of the EITC, and to make the case for the credit’s expansion.

Please join us, text UWGP EITC to 52886 to support to support expanding Maine’s Earned Income Tax Credit.

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