Sanjuana’s Story: Earned Income Tax Credit Helps Family Stability

DSC_6327Sanjuana is a resident of Buncombe County, NC and lives with her husband and three children – two girls aged 8 and one boy aged 2. Sanjuana’s husband works in landscaping and during the lean winter months, her family would get behind in paying bills.  For the past seven years, Sanjuana and her family have relied on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refund to pay for food and to keep up with bills. Governor McCrory and the NC Legislature decided to end the North Carolina EITC after 2013.The federal EITC will continue. Research shows that the federal EITC keeps many families above the poverty line – Sanjuana’s family included.

Sanjuana and her family use the EITC  to catch up on bills and other payments. “If we did not have that money we would be at risk of losing our trailer lot. We paid the minimum throughout the year, and then paid the remainder at tax time.” During their first year of receiving EITC, Sanjuana and her family were able to put a down payment to buy their trailer helping create stability and placing them above the poverty line. In 2011, the EITC helped 293,000 North Carolinians – half of whom were children. The EITC has been an effective anti-poverty tool – helping working families afford groceries, clothing, transportation, and basic needs. That is why many states, like North Carolina, created a state level EITC to build on the success of the federal credit.Sanjuana also notes that when her son was born, they were able to use the tax credit to buy a larger, used vehicle that allowed for all three children to be able to ride in the car together.

Sanjuana  completes taxes as early as the beginning of January due to their dependence on the EITC. In 2011, the average tax credit received by working families was $116, with a family like Sanjuana’s able to receive an estimated $272. For low-income, working families  every dollar helps meet the needs of their children.  When Governor McCrory and the state legislature ended the NC EITC last year, they passed additional tax breaks for wealthy North Carolinians and corporations. In regards to what should be said to North Carolina’s state legislators, Sanjuana believes, “It is very important they allow us to have this benefit because for many families, the year is a critical time for them. For those who are dependent on the weather, the months backing up to tax time can be extremely lean.”

Sanjuana and her family are just one example of how the Earned Income Tax Credit supports working families. It is time to reinstate North Carolina’s Earned Income Tax Credit for working families and build a fairer tax system that invests in the success of children and families in our community.

This story is part of a series collected by The Success Equation. Under the umbrella of Children First/CIS, the Success Equation is an initiative that unites community to reduce and prevent poverty so all children can thrive. Partners include the Cathedral of All Souls, Girl Scouts Peak to Piedmont, Junior League of Asheville, Just Economics, Innovative Partners International, Searchlight Consulting, Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation, and YWCA. To find out more go to find out more, go to www.childrenfirstcisbc.org.