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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

How the Earned Income Tax Credit helps working class families in MI

Tax forms photo
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 The Earned Income Tax Credit was signed into law in 1975 by Michigan’s own President Gerald R. Ford and since then has had an impact on reducing poverty for families in Grand Rapids and around the state. Rebeca Arredondo and her ten-year-old son, Marco are one of these families living paycheck to paycheck and still having to rely on these credits to make ends meet. 

“Those things that are unexpected I wouldn’t be able to pay for them if I don’t get my tax return every year.”

Arredondo works for 211 at Heart of West Michigan United Way educating families on how they too can access the tax credit. In 2017, close to 15% of families in Kent County benefitted from the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit.

“A lot of families that I get to talk to through work at 211, do work very hard, they have jobs, but they are low income and they are poor and there is a stigma about them speaking up saying: “yes, I am struggling, yes I do have a job but I am still poor.” 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has proposed to double the tax credit to 12% and Michigan Senator, Winnie Brinks, who is in support of this legislative change, says the bills are about economic justice for all. 

“So that we can get more dollars back in the hands of folks who need it the most and that’s money that goes directly into our local economies to pay for housing, for childcare, for transportation.”

According to the Living Wage Calculator developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Michigan family like Arredondos’ has to be able to make at least $23.29 per hour for forty hours a week to be able to meet all their basic needs – which is more than twice the minimum wage in Michigan. 

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News.