Enactment of Senate Bill 398-B is a win for low-income working families

News Release
June 6, 2017

Statement by Janet Bauer

Today, low-income working families achieved a significant victory with the Oregon Senate’s approval of Senate Bill 398-B in a bipartisan vote of 23 in favor and seven against. This bill will make it more likely that families eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit actually take advantage of this anti-poverty, pro-family, pro-work support. The bill now heads to the Governor for her expected signature.

The Oregon Center for Public Policy published an analysis in January showing that Oregon ranked near the bottom nationally in the use of the federal EITC, leaving more than $100 million in tax credits unclaimed. This and other analysis by the Center sparked legislative action, culminating in today’s vote on SB 398-B.

Related materials:

Fact sheet: Oregon’s Low EITC Participation Leaves Over $100 Million Unclaimed, January 24, 2017

SB 398-Enrolled - the version that the Senate sent to the Governor.

The bill requires that the W-2 wage statements employees receive for purpose of filing tax returns include notice of the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits.

Currently, about one of every four Oregonians who qualify for the EITC do not claim it. Some are simply unaware of the credit. SB 398-B is an important step in ensuring that families that qualify for the EITC actually take advantage of it.

Boosting use of the EITC in Oregon would help families throughout the state, as well as the communities where they live. Researchers have found that the EITC reduces poverty among working households and improves educational outcomes for the children, with lasting benefits. When low-income families have money in their pockets, they tend to spend more in local businesses to meet their basic needs, which is good for the local economy. And with more families claiming the federal EITC, it draws more federal dollars into Oregon’s economy.

SB 398-B is good for working families, local economies, and the broader Oregon economy.

Janet Bauer is a policy analyst with the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

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