Lawmakers Have Chance to Support Workers and Economy
A few bills making their way through the Legislature this week would provide policymakers the opportunity to promote greater economic stability for thousands of low-to-moderate-income families by:
- Funding the Working Families Tax Rebate (House Bill 1890), which would reduce taxes for more than 400,000 hard-working Washington families in every legislative district by closing a loophole that lets out-of-state visitors avoid Washington sales tax; and
- Extending WorkFirst benefits (House Bill 1734), which would help low income families find or keep a job in counties with persistent high unemployment.
Working Families Tax Rebate (WFTR) is based on the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a highly successful tool for helping families achieve self-sufficiency and keeping children out of poverty. HB 1890 sets the Working Families Tax Rebate at 3.5 percent of the federal EITC and pays for it by closing a tax loophole that allows some out-of-state visitors to avoid paying Washington state sales tax. Eliminating this loophole would bring in more than $30 million in revenue annually that Washington state currently gives up. HB 1890 is being heard on Wednesday morning in the House Finance Committee.
WorkFirst is Washington state’s program for helping low-income parents with children find or keep a job. Under current law, once a family has used 60 months of WorkFirst benefits – the major program for helping low-income parents with children find and keep a job – they are no longer eligible for assistance. However, our state economy is not producing enough jobs.
HB1734 would allow families living in counties with unemployment rates above 10 percent to remain on the WorkFirst program until job prospects return to normal. In December 2012, WorkFirst participants in only 16 counties would have been eligible for the exemption.
For more information, check out our other resources on the WorkFirst program; ‘Over 20,000 people (and counting) have lost needed job support’ & ‘Lawmakers Should Strengthen Programs that Support Work’