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Tax Credit Expansion For Immigrants Inches Closer To Passing Legislature

Rachel Baye

  A bill extending a major poverty-fighting tool to low-income immigrants cleared an initial vote in the Maryland House of Delegates Thursday, despite Republicans’ objections to extending the benefit to immigrants without legal status in the United States. 


The legislation expands the state’s existing Earned Income Tax Credit so that low-income residents who file taxes with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, or ITINs, instead of Social Security numbers may qualify.


Both citizens and immigrants who have Social Security numbers already get this tax credit, Del. Julie Palakovich Carr, a Montgomery County Democrat, said during Thursday’s debate in the House.


“But for mixed status families, they're the ones getting cut out, so there actually are U.S. citizens, especially children, who have been cut out of the Earned Income Tax Credit because their parents file with an ITIN,” she said. “These are low-income working families who are suffering through this pandemic.”


Several Republicans questioned whether the bill would extend the tax credit to an immigrant with no income, allowing them to essentially profit off the credit. However, Palakovich Carr said only taxpayers who have income qualify for the credit. 


The legislation would make about 60,000 Maryland taxpayers eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, according to the Comptroller’s Office. It would cost the state just over $53 million. 


Married Maryland taxpayers who have at least three children could qualify for the credit if they earn less than $56,844 in total household income. Individuals and taxpayers with fewer or no children are subject to lower income caps. The new bill does not change these requirements.


The bill, which the Senate passed last week, could get a final vote in the House as early as Friday. If it becomes law, it will take effect immediately, potentially in time for eligible taxpayers to get the tax credit when they file their 2020 taxes.


Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom. @RachelBaye
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