The three largest federal income-support programs for low-income households are the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), food stamps, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). While TANF and food stamps are traditional spending programs, the EITC provides more than $30 billion each year through the tax code. The EITC appears to be quite successful in reaching low-income families with children. The figure below shows that from 1990 to 1999, between 80 and 86 percent of eligible households with children claimed the EITC. Participation rates for TANF and food stamps have not remained as stable.
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