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State Tax Credit Could Help WA Working Families 'Pay the Bills'

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019   

SEATTLE – Ahead of the 2020 legislative session, a diverse coalition is calling on state lawmakers to fund a working-class tax break.

The Working Families Tax Credit, the Evergreen State's version of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, would provide an average income boost of $350, mainly for people making less than $51,000 a year.

Brittany Williams, an executive board member for the Service Industry Employees Union 775, a home-care providers' union, said most families would use the extra income to pay bills. In her case, that means medical expenses.

"I need dental work done and, even though I do have dental insurance, because of the work that I need done, it just doesn't cover it," she said. "And so, I work through the pain, and I live with that pain with my mouth issue every day and I just don't complain about it to anybody. I make sure my children are taken care of."

The Working Families Tax Credit already has passed in Washington state but has yet to be funded. It's estimated the measure would affect about 967,000 households. Supporters include Moms Rising, United Way of King County and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

At a roundtable this week in support of the state tax credit, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said she also is working on federal legislation. Jayapal is co-sponsoring the "Working Families Tax Relief Act" and the "Building Our Opportunities to Survive and Thrive Act," which would provide up to $3,000 in tax credits for individuals and $6,000 for married couples. She said the 2017 Republican tax cut isn't helping working families, and contended that wealthy Americans can afford to pay more.

"When three people in the United States of America - two of whom live in our state - have the same combined wealth as 160 million Americans across the country," she said, "we know that that does not provide the opportunity for everyone to have a fair and decent life, and just to make ends meet."

The 60-day state legislative session begins Jan. 13. state Sen. Joe Nguyen, D-West Seattle, and Rep. Debra Entenman, D-Kent, are the primary sponsors of the Working Families Tax Credit bill. Its text is online at apps.leg.wa.gov.

Disclosure: SEIU 775 contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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In the United States, home-care workers, mostly women and people of color, earn on average only $12 an hour. (Adobe Stock)

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