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States Should Follow California and Colorado, Extend EITC to More Immigrants

States should follow the recent lead of California and Colorado and make their state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) more inclusive for people regardless of their immigration status. That would help expand economic opportunity for all their residents and support essential workers — disproportionately immigrants — who are earning low pay during the pandemic.

EITCs provide a cash boost to help families make ends meet, which is particularly important now for immigrants, many of whom face high barriers to good health and economic stability. Immigrants are losing jobs more quickly than other workers, and those still working are likelier to face exposure to the coronavirus and its potentially severe health consequences. That’s because, like people of color and women, immigrants disproportionately work in many front-line occupations, including home health aides and grocery workers, that are especially essential now to public health and the economy.

Federal policymakers, however, excluded millions of immigrants from many of the emergency pandemic supports that they enacted this year. And many of those same people are ineligible for the federal EITC and Child Tax Credit because they lack Social Security numbers and file taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). That’s why California and Colorado extended their state EITCs to those filing with ITINs:

  • California policymakers extended the state’s EITC and its supplement, the Young Child Tax Credit, to families filing with an ITIN with at least one child under 6. These changes will benefit 32,000 to 46,000 families, according to California Budget & Policy Center.

  • Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed the Tax Fairness Act, which raises the state EITC’s value from 10 to 15 percent of the federal credit and extends it to residents who file with ITINs. (To help fund this expansion and direct more money to K-12 schools, the act raises $218 million in new revenue over four years by closing a range of tax loopholes.)

Other states should follow these examples as part of their antiracist and equitable responses to the pandemic. Immigrants make sizable contributions to local communities as well as state economies and finances: like other residents, they work, pay taxes, and shop at local businesses. They should have access to the same supports as other residents to weather the crisis.