For immediate release January 27, 2023
Campaign Communications Specialist
The Working Families Tax Credit, a new annual cash rebate for low– to moderate-income households in Washington state, opens to applications on February 1. This groundbreaking program will put as much as $1,200 cash back into the pockets of 420,000 Washington households, add $267 million to local economies, and help to balance Washington’s inequitable tax code.
Now, lawmakers have the opportunity to strengthen this program by fixing the arbitrary age-based exclusion of young people ages 18 to 25 and seniors age 65 and older, who are currently excluded if they don’t have a qualifying child. House Bill 1075/Senate Bill 5249 would ensure that 210,000 of the lowest income households in Washington state can access the Working Families Tax Credit.
Representative My-Linh Thai, who is sponsoring HB 1075, has this to say about the bill: “Everyone in Washington deserves to have the support they need to thrive. Young people without kids, who are working and building a life for themselves, should not be excluded from accessing the Working Families Tax Credit. The same for working seniors with low incomes, who are experiencing poverty at higher and higher levels. House Bill 1075 will fix this unjust exclusion and ensure that many more people in Washington who need it can access this cash boost.”
The impact of the Working Families Tax Credit for young adults
Adolescents and young adults face the highest poverty rates of any age group in the United States. Alfredo Corvalan, 22, a college student living in Federal Way, knows this personally.
“As a young person from a working-class background, I am constantly strapped for cash,” Alfredo says.” I have three part-time jobs just so that I can stay afloat, that’s why having any amount of cash for an emergency is a godsend. Working full-time and attending college full-time is tough already, and these days with such a high cost of living I am barely making ends meet. So, any extra cash means helping me be able to fill up my gas tank, buy groceries, and pay rent to keep a roof over my head.”
The cash boost provided by the Working Families Tax Credit would also be critical for working young people leaving the foster care system or attending community college or trade schools. American Community Survey data shows that in 2022, 10% of full-time workers in Washington state are between 18 and 25, and almost 42% of those workers are low-income, making less than $29,160 per year. Of those workers, an outsized percentage are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color, due to the ongoing legacy of racist and inequitable policies and systems.
“Young people in Washington state face headwinds that almost no generation in American history can relate to,” says Shaun Scott, policy and field campaign manager at the Statewide Poverty Action Network. ”In our cities we see increasingly unaffordable tuition costs, inflation, and economic slowdowns related to an ongoing global pandemic. In the face of rising rents and rising costs of living, the expansion of the Working Families Tax Credit to more young adults could make a huge difference.”
The impact for working seniors
More adults age 65 and older are working now than at any point during the previous 25 years. From 1994 to 2023, the share of adults ages 65 to 69 participating in the labor force increased from about 22% to about 34%. Under the current Working Families Tax Credit rules for people without dependents, a 64-year-old making $14,000/ year would qualify for the Working Families Tax Credit, and a 65-year-old making the same amount would not. House Bill 1075/Senate Bill 5249 would fix this so all people who need it can get this cash boost.
“The economic inequity that the Working Families Tax Credit seeks to correct is inequity that does not recognize age,” says Aaron Czyzewski, director of advocacy and public policy at Food Lifeline. “A regressive tax code harms an 18- or 24-year-old, or 65-year-old worker just the same as anyone else. Nearly a third of food pantry guests are young people, working, and like so many in our state, struggling to make ends meet. And 22% are people over 55. People don’t experience food insecurity and hunger because food is unavailable, they experience them because their income is inadequate”
The Working Families Tax Credit Coalition, a coalition of over 45 organizations who advocated for this tax credit, continue to be committed to strengthening the credit and improving access. They are also advocating for an administrative fix bill which will improve access to the credit by lengthening the amount of time people have to apply to three years and including people who file married filing separately.
See additional details about the Working Families Tax Credit Coalition’s work at www.WaTaxCredit.org. Contact Leila Reynolds to arrange an interview with a policy advocate or impacted community member. Tune in on Tuesday January 31 at 8 a.m. for a House Finance hearing on HB 1075.