RALEIGH (Nov. 13, 2019) – Implementing a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in North Carolina could improve physical and mental health, maternal and infant health, enhanced nutrition, and community well-being for 900,000 people working for low wages, according to a new report from the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center.

The report demonstrates the link between poverty and poor health, as well as how a state EITC would impact the markers of poor health outcomes in North Carolina such as low birth weights, poor nutrition, and depression.

“Once again, North Carolina missed the chance this session to boost the health and economic well-being of working families by not passing a state EITC,” said Alexandra Sirota, Budget & Tax Center Director. “Instead of increasing the standard deduction – which doesn’t benefit those working for poverty wages – lawmakers could have established a state tax credit for working families.”

Link: Read more about how increasing the standard deduction isn’t helpful for North Carolina

Twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico currently have state-level EITCs that augment the benefits of the federal EITC in reducing poverty and improving health. However, North Carolina is not one of those states. In fact, North Carolina is the only state to have ever eliminated its EITC and undone its positive impact on residents’ health.

“A state Earned Income Tax Credit is a common-sense solution to address North Carolina’s poverty-related public health crisis,” said Heba Atwa, Budget & Tax Center Policy Advocate and author of the report. “North Carolina’s EITC made up only a small portion of the state budget in 2013, the last year before it was eliminated, but it improved life for more than 900,000 North Carolinians.”

Highlights of the health impacts of a state-level EITC from the report:

  • Maternal and infant health: Mothers receiving the EITC, or increased EITC payments, benefited from improved physical and mental health and decreased depression scores. Babies in families receiving EITC have higher birth weights. Each year, 361 more North Carolina babies would be born at regular birth weights and would be able to live out healthier lives if the state had an EITC of just 10 percent of the federal credit.
  • Nutrition and community well-being: Receiving EITC is associated with the purchase and consumption of more food and healthier food. The EITC also has been shown to deliver a compounded benefit on health in neighborhoods where large numbers of recipients live in close proximity.
  • Mental and physical health: Receiving EITC is linked to self-reports of improved health among children and heads of households, as well as a decrease in risky biomarkers and depression scores. An EITC set at 10 percent of the federal credit has the potential to save the lives of North Carolinians, as a result of the credit’s association with the reduction of so-called “deaths of despair” suicides.

Read the Report

The nonpartisan Budget & Tax Center is a project of the NC Justice Center, which works to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring every household in the state has access to the resources, services and fair treatment it needs to achieve economic security.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT Alexandra Sirota, Budget & Tax Center Director, at alexandra@ncjustice.org or 919-861-1468; Heba Atwa, Budget & Tax Center Policy Advocate, at heba@ncjustice.org or 919-856-2176; or Mel Umbarger, Senior Communications Specialist, mel@ncjustice.org.