In Brief

A new report from, a research program at Brandeis University that “monitors the state of well-being, diversity, opportunity and equity of U.S. children,” examines how changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) could significantly lower child poverty and do so equitably.

The report, A Policy Equity Analysis of the Earned Income Tax Credit: Fully Including Children in Immigrant Families and Hispanic children in This Key Anti-Poverty Program, looks at the implications of expanding EITC benefits to fully include children in immigrant families, mixed status families and families with undocumented members.

Why This Matters

Recent changes to the Child Tax Credit have allowed families with very low incomes to receive benefits, reducing inequities in the program and lifting millions out of poverty. The Earned Income Tax Credit – which helps low- to moderate-income workers and families get a tax break – is another federal program intended to reduce child poverty, but it has not received similar attention to make the program more equitable and effective. 

Multiple studies have found that when families are given tax benefits and can decide how to spend them, the money is used to improve their family’s overall well-being.

The Opportunity

According to the report, EITC is denied to 21% of children in poverty because they live with an undocumented family member. Ignoring children who live in mixed status families will leave more than 2 million children behind in the effort to reduce child poverty. 

This research points to the clear advantages of increasing benefits and fully including children in immigrant families in EITC. Increasing EITC benefits by 40% and allowing parents to claim the EITC for children with social security numbers, regardless of the tax identification status for parents, reduces the overall child poverty rate by 22%, lifting more than two million additional children out of poverty.


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