With Christmas this week, and the holidays here — let’s try to slow our pace and enjoy family, friends and faith. If we make a conscious effort to reflect and relax when we can, I suspect we can alleviate some stress of the hustle and bustle of the season and find peaceful moments.
As evidenced by the daily phone calls to our office, however, I am acutely aware that not everyone is experiencing peace right now. Many are struggling to feed themselves and families; some have nowhere to live (in this extreme cold); still others are stretched and exhausted at working more than one job to try to make ends meet. These are some of the reasons that at United Way of Danville Area, our focus is on reducing poverty. The only way to reduce poverty and give people hope for their future is through concrete, tangible programs and resources that people can access to lift themselves up.
Tangible sources of relief are available to working individuals and families at tax time — the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) and CTC (Child Tax Credit) through VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) sites. The EITC is a federal tax credit for working individuals and families who earn low or moderate incomes (under $26,000 for individuals and $52,000 for families). Enacted by Congress in 1975, it was created to reduce the tax burden on lower-income workers, supplement their wages, and encourage greater participation in the work force. It has become the nation’s largest and most effective anti-poverty program.
Enacted in 1997, the Child Tax Credit is worth up to $1,000 per eligible child and with the Additional Child Tax Credit working families can receive a refund equal to 15 percent of their earnings above $3,000, up to the credit’s full $1,000-per-child value. CTC has an instrumental role in reducing child poverty. Between 2009 and 2011, the EITC and CTC lifted 9.4 million people out of poverty, including 4.9 million children.