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Ways and Means Tax Reform Hearing

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Congressman Danny K. Davis Statement in support of Chu-Davis Amendment to Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (as prepared)

I proudly join Representative Chu in offering this amendment.  I have championed enhancing the EITC to help childless workers and noncustodial parents since 2005 via the Julia Carson Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act.  Improvements to the economic well-being of childless workers and noncustodial parents promote responsible fatherhood and help these workers provide for their families. 

I am very proud that this amendment lowers the eligibility age to 18 to cover struggling younger workers who current law excludes, such as former foster youth, apprentices, and homeless youth.  By starting at 25, the EITC currently disadvantages former foster youth who enter the work force earlier and experience higher rates of poverty than their peers. The instability, neglect, and abuse experienced by foster youth create barriers to economic stability. We know that approximately 20,000 to 25,000 foster youth between 18 and 21 age out of care annually, with studies indicating that three-quarters are not enrolled in school by age 21. 

Lowering the EITC age to 18 promises to promote economic well-being, reduce poverty, and increase labor-force participation of former foster youth. This is why many foster youth and child advocacy organizations support my Foster EITC bill that lowers the EITC to 18 for foster youth, including: the Child Welfare League of America; Youth Villages; the Foster Care Alumni Association of America; First Focus Campaign for Children; the Family Focused Treatment Association; Partners for Our Children; the National Association of Social Workers; and the Juvenile Law Center.

Further, lowering the age to 18 helps apprentices and other young workers who choose to enter the workforce rather obtain a 4-year college degree.  Apprentices start out earning very little.  HR 1 throws crumbs to apprentices by allowing 529 plans to be used for minor training expenses, like books and supplies.  Given that employers pay for the coursework of apprentices, the remaining education costs are relatively small. This is why apprentice advocates actually asked that the 529 expenses cover child care given that it is one of their biggest expenses.  Child care is NOT an eligible expense in HR 1.

Similarly, this bill leaves out the wonderful graduates of Youth Build and Job Corps who learn great job skills but don’t earn that much starting out.  For example, Youth Build graduates aged 18-24 land jobs paying between $20,000 to $30,000.  Seventy percent of these workers are childless.  This bill also would help the almost 50,000 youth trained via Job Corps each year – the nation’s premier residential education and training program for at-risk 16-to-24 year olds.  The average placement wage for a graduate of the Paul Simon Job Corps Center in Chicago is below the living wage in the Chicago area. 

We should do much more to give younger workers access to this critical work support that encourages and rewards work as well as offsets federal payroll and income taxes.  This amendment would promote economic well-being for these hard-working and qualified young workers who are not yet earning living wages, increasing their work success and lessening their likelihood to need government support in the future.   

Congressman Davis is the Ranking Member of the Human Resources Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee

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    repName Danny K. Davis  
    helpWithFedAgencyAddress Chicago District Office
    2813-15 W. Fifth Avenue
    Chicago, Illinois 60612
    district 7th District of Illinois  
    academyUSCitizenDate July 1, 2017  
    academyAgeDate July 1, 2017  
    academyApplicationDueDate October 20, 2017  
    repStateABBR Il  
    repDistrict 7  
    repState Illinois  
    repDistrictText 7th  
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