Tax credits forever changed my family’s life
Editor’s note: Kali Daugherty is a RESULTS Expert on Poverty and RESULTS Fellowship alum. This post is based on Kali’s remarks during a July 2020 Congressional briefing featuring Kali’s own representative, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), along with Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and researchers, on the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. This article is cross-posted with permission.
In 2009, I was enrolled in college, but my financial aid fell through. I suddenly owed the school just under $5,000. I was barely making it already and had to drop out. For the next few years, I worked 2-3 jobs at a time and thought a lot about how different things would be if I had the opportunity to finish school.
In the spring of 2012, my son was born. As a new parent I was full of joy and excitement. There was also the constant anxiety thinking about what I could do to provide a better life for my child. How was I supposed to tell him how important education is and that he can follow his dreams when I wasn’t able to do that for myself?
Tax time the following year I received credits that would forever change my family’s life.
My son doesn’t know what tax credits are – they don’t learn about that in grade school. He does know that mommy finished school and because of this she got a new job. He knows that this allowed us to move out of our apartment and into our house. He knows that I spend my days in my new job helping people and working to find them a house.
Without the necessary and life-changing opportunity presented to me by the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would still be waitressing and bartending 60 hours a week, not spending enough time with my son, barely sleeping and still wondering how we would afford our bills each month.
I graduated in 2015 with 2 bachelor’s degrees and my son got to attend my graduation. When he said “Good job mommy” after the ceremony it made all the hard work worth it. Inspired by the increase in job opportunities I went on to earn my master’s degree in Public Administration in 2018.
The hand up that I received subsequently afforded me the opportunity to positively impact my community by landing my dream job working with our local housing division. In my work with homeless services, I have been able to help hundreds of people to find stability in housing, overcome addiction and realize their own dreams. I have been able to witness firsthand how these credits impact individuals. Every year when while working in the shelter system I would see families receive their tax credits and use that money to pay the first month rent and security deposit for their apartments, get a new car that would allow them new work opportunities, and get themselves above the poverty line.
The immense implications of success and opportunity provided by these credits are undeniable. I urge Congress to expand these tax credits and allow hard working Americans to have the chance to not only provide for themselves but to strive for things that would otherwise be out of their reach.