Earned Income Tax Credit bill becomes law

Among the bill signed today by Gov Jerry Brown was Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner’s AB 509, which requires the state to give low-income California families information to determine whether they’re eligible for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.

The bill requires specified state departments and agencies that serve low-income Californians to notify their program recipients, such as people receiving unemployment benefits, about the EITC. Depending on their circumstances, eligible families could receive anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $5600 from the credit, which provides direct cash to tax filers who are unemployed or earning low wages.

“In 2009, 800,000 Californians who could have been eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit failed to claim over $1.2 billion in federal money,” Skinner, D-Berkeley, said in a news release. “That money would not only help individual families, it would help stimulate our economy when that money is spent in our communities at local stores and businesses, so it makes sense to make sure every Californian who is eligible knows about the credit and applies.”

The New America Foundation reported in 2010 that if the unfiled refunds for eligible Californians were claimed, it would have spurred over $1.2 billion in business and sales, paid $311 million in wages, and added nearly 7,500 jobs to the state economy. Skinner noted President Ronald Reagan once called the credit “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”

Skinner’s was among several bills that Brown’s office said he signed “to protect the state budget and strengthen fiscal stability in California.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.