A new policy brief by the nonprofit Center for American Progress proposed that if the federal government expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers without dependent children it would generate an additional $1.7 billion to $3.3 billion in societal benefit each year from reduced crime and improved public safety.
The policy brief came on the heels of a recent report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers that showed how raising the federal minimum wage would significantly reduce criminal activity and enhance public safety, saving American communities billions of dollars each year.
According to the Center for American Progress (CAP), not only are the minimum wage and the EITC highly complementary policies—they both receive relatively strong bi-partisan support. CAP also stressed if a minimum wage increase was paired with an expansion of EITC it could result in annual public safety benefits of $10 billion to $20 billion to American communities—particularly those communities most affected by mass incarceration and over-criminalization. In addition, it would also give a tremendous boost to struggling workers and their families.
CAP’s assessment of the potential economic impact of an expanded EITC for workers without dependent children has a pre-existing base of support. Wisconsin Representative and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and President Barack Obama have both called for expanding the EITC for low-paid workers without qualifying dependent children. These workers are the only group taxed further into poverty by the U.S. federal tax code, according to CAP. Also, since individuals who have criminal records are more likely to work in low-wage jobs and many support noncustodial children, expanding the EITC would not only have a positive impact on the lives of these individuals but on their children as well.