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Boosting earned-income tax credit an alternative to income tax cuts, supporters say
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Boosting earned-income tax credit an alternative to income tax cuts, supporters say

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Raising Nebraska's earned-income tax credit would help poor, working families more than cutting income taxes, supporters of two proposals told a legislative committee Wednesday.

The earned-income tax credit, or EITC, is a refundable credit available to working families who have low to moderate incomes.

Some 132,000 Nebraskans claimed the federal credit on their 2015 tax returns. The average credit was $2,361.

Nebraska offers its own state credit, which is 10 percent of the federal credit.

If lawmakers think the state can afford tax cuts this year, despite the $900 million shortfall, "why not look at one designed for the working families who need it most?" asked state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, one of two Lincoln senators who sponsored bills to increase the EITC this year.

Pansing Brooks' proposal (LB69) would double the state credit over four years, costing the state an estimated $36 million per year once fully implemented.

The other proposal (LB129), from Sen. Adam Morfeld, would raise it by 1 percent each of the next two years.

Some surrounding states' credits are higher than Nebraska's, including Iowa's at 15 percent and Kansas at 17 percent, Pansing Brooks told members of the Legislature's Revenue Committee during a public hearing.

The measures were supported by Nebraska Appleseed, the Nebraska Catholic Conference, the Center for People in Need, Nebraskans for Peace, Voices for Children in Nebraska and the Holland Children's Movement. No one testified in opposition.

Revenue Committee members took no action on the bill Wednesday.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7234 or zpluhacek@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @zachami.

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