MEDIA RELEASE: Groups urge legislators to extend tax benefits essential for North Carolina's working families

Millions in North Carolina, especially children, get help from these badly-needed tax credits; without them, poverty would increase dramatically

RALEIGH (May 27) -- If congress does not extend crucial tax credits for working families, millions could face poverty and economic growth will suffer, dozens of groups said today in a letter to North Carolina's entire congressional delegation.

This morning 40 nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups and service providers delivered a letter to the state's congressional representatives and senators urging the lawmakers to fight for the speedy renewal and improvement of the refundable Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and American Opportunity Tax Credit, policies that help working families make ends meet and send their kids to college.

"Extending these important tax benefits could prevent millions of people from slipping into poverty," said Elaine Mejia, director of the Budget & Tax Center at the NC Justice Center.

Children in North Carolina are especially at risk if congress fails to act.

If improvements made in 2009 to the refundable Child Tax Credit aren't extended this year, the letter says, almost 600,000 North Carolina children would lose benefits, causing their families to suffer.

Changes to the Earned Income Tax Credit affect 270,000 children in North Carolina. An analysis by the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities shows that changes to the EITC lifted 40,000 North Carolinians out of poverty - 22,000 of whom are children.

"You have an opportunity to help low-income working families withstand the loss of income from the recession, prevent millions from slipping into poverty, and sustain economic growth, now and for years to come," the letter tells legislators. "These vital goals can be achieved by continuing and building upon the improvements made to refundable tax credits now in place to assist children, their working parents, and students. "

The letter also advises legislators to help low-income students attend college through the American Opportunity Tax Credit. Most federal tax assistance for college study is primarily helpful to households with incomes of $100,000 - $200,000.

"The American Opportunity Tax Credit makes it possible for millions of low-income students who would otherwise be excluded to afford higher education," said Mejia. "This helps families across America and builds the foundation for sustained economic growth."

The letter and a list of signatories follows this e-mail. It is also available online at:

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Elaine Mejia, 919.856.2176; Jeff Shaw, director of communications, 503.551.3615.