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Evaluating State EITC Options for California

Thomas E. MaCurdy | March 2004

Summary

In recent years, California and other states have either considered or developed their own earned income tax credit (EITC) plans to supplement the federal EITC. A well-targeted state EITC can support various policy goals by supporting low-income families and increasing their incentives to work. This report lays out four distinct approaches to a state EITC and tests them against three criteria: their effects on work incentives, the distribution of benefits by family type, and cost. It finds that if California wishes to implement its own EITC, it should not simply “add on” to the federal plan. Rather, it should design a program that considers a family’s hourly wages as well as its earnings.
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