Strengthening the Safety Net: The Earned Income Tax Credit

photo of mother and grade school- age son standing at park

The federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) was established in 1975 as a mechanism to reduce tax liability for low-income working families. It is regarded as one of the largest anti-poverty programs in the social safety net. The EITC is credited with lifting 6.5 million people, including 3 million children, out of poverty nationwide in 2015 alone.
In 2016, approximately 515,000 Missourians received the federal EITC at an average amount of $2,433. In 2017, the maximum annual credit ranged from$510 to $6,318 depending on family size. Originally, childless adults were not eligible to receive the EITC. They have since been added to eligible recipients, although still receive significantly less than families with children. In 2015, almost half of Missourians who claimed the federal credit were single parents while 28 percent were single and without children.