Every year on November 11th, we as a nation thank those who served for the sacrifices they made in protecting our freedom. We honor a great uncle who served during World War II, a parent who fought in Vietnam, or a cousin who just returned from a final tour in Afghanistan. While it is important that we take a day to remember our veterans, it’s equally important to make sure veterans have the resources to return to their lives and provide for their families.
One of the best ways we can do this is to ask Congress to save key provisions of two tax credits that help veterans and military families make ends meet. These credits, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), only go to people who work, and they encourage employment and self-sufficiency. The benefits of the EITC and CTC are undisputed. These tax credits encourage work, help lift families out of poverty, and improve the lives of children. Additionally, research shows children in families that benefit from the EITC and CTC are healthier, do better in school, are more likely to go to college, and earn more as adults.
Millions of Americans, including two million active service members, veterans, and their families, receive these credits to provide for their families. In Michigan alone, about 62,000 veteran and military families benefit from the EITC, the low-income component of the CTC, or both. However, if key provisions expire, half of these families, including 32,000 in Michigan, could lose all or part of their credits. What this means is that a single veteran with two children making Michigan minimum wage—$18,500—would lose $1,415 of his or her $2,000 child tax credit.
Michigan’s veterans were hit hard by the recent recession. In every year of the past decade, Michigan’s average annual unemployment rate for veterans has been higher than the national average, and in half of the past ten years, Michigan veterans have had a higher unemployment rate than Michigan’s average unemployment rate. In general, veterans from the post-9/11 era have been disproportionately affected. And while things seem to be improving, we must continue to support our active service members and veteran families.
Right now, Congress is starting to debate the extension of a number of business tax credits that expire this year. Both Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady have expressed an eagerness to either extend or make permanent these business tax cuts by the end of the year. And should any of these credits be made permanent, these key EITC and CTC provisions should be treated the same.
Military men and women put their lives on the line to ensure our safety and to protect our freedom. And they shouldn’t have to strain to provide for themselves and their families once they return home. This Veterans Day, Congress should honor the men and women who served our country by protecting these credits that help so many when they return.
– Rachel Richards