Access to cash is critical for everyone. It empowers people to make decisions that are best for themselves and their loved ones – whether it’s meeting essential needs like rent or groceries, taking care of car repairs or medical needs, or saving for an emergency. The flexibility that cash offers is especially important given the job losses and health costs inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, many cash assistance programs exclude immigrant members of our communities. Whether it’s expanded unemployment insurance or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), undocumented immigrants are often unable to access the support others can rely on when they fall on hard times. In our state, efforts are underway to change this by including people who files taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) in the proposed Working Families Tax Credit/Recovery Rebate bill.
House Bill 1297, which would update and fund Washington state’s Working Families Tax Credit – our state-level Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – includes residents who pay their taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). ITIN filers include taxpayers who are undocumented immigrants, certain student visa holders, some survivors of domestic violence, and others.
Including ITIN filers in the Working Families Tax Credit begins to address the systemic exclusion of immigrants from relief efforts. In fact, this updated version of the tax credit is estimated to reach more than 33,000 immigrant households in our state.
See our fact sheet on the importance of including ITIN filers in the Working Families Tax Credit.
And this bill is part of a growing movement nationwide for including ITIN filers in state EITCs. Four states recently enacted state EITC expansions that include immigrants:
- Last year, California and Colorado expanded their state-level EITCs to include ITIN filers. This year, California also sent an additional one-time Golden State stimulus payment to all eligible state EITC and ITIN filers.
- This year, Maryland boosted its state EITC credit and expanded it to ITIN filers, which will now reach about 40,000 additional immigrant families.
- The New Mexico legislature also recently passed a bill increasing its state EITC payment and expanding it to ITIN filers as well as young workers aged 18-24. It is awaiting their governor’s signature.
House Bill 1297, which passed the Washington state House 94-2 and was funded in the House and Senate budget proposals, is part of this nationwide momentum.
State lawmakers must act now to pass the updated Working Families Tax Credit – as well as invest in the Washington Immigrant Relief Fund, a state-funded program that provides cash to immigrants who are barred from federal stimulus payments. This will help ensure undocumented immigrants, who in many cases have shouldered the worst impacts of the pandemic, have access to the cash they need. These policies will support a stronger economic recovery for all Washingtonians.