The War on Poverty Moves to the Tax Code

Research Report

The War on Poverty Moves to the Tax Code

Abstract

In 1975, the federal income tax code joined the "War on Poverty" with the enactment of the earned income tax credit (EITC). Today, tax credits form some of the largest and most effective anti-poverty programs in the US. In 2012, the Census Bureau estimated that tax credits cut poverty (under a broad measure that includes the effect of programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and the EITC) by 3 percentage points more than SNAP (1.6 points) and TANF (0.2 points). The tax credits cut child poverty by a whopping 6.7 percentage points.

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