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The EITC: Expectation, Knowledge, Use, and Economic and Social Mobility

Smeeding, Timothy M., Phillips, Katherin Ross, and O’Connor, Michael

Abstract:

This paper presents our findings on the knowledge and use of the 1997 Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) based on a sample of Chicago area households, with children, that filed tax returns in the winter and spring of 1998. Respondents reported in detail about using their federal tax refunds (including the EITC) to pay bills, purchase new items, or save. Data were also gathered on respondents’ prior knowledge of the EITC and their ability to make particular expenditures without the help of the EITC. Uses of the EITC are divided into those that improve economic and social mobility (e.g., purchase a car, pay tuition, change residence) and those that primarily help to make ends meet (e.g., pay routine bills, purchase food). This is among the first papers to address these issues, despite the fact that the EITC is our largest refundable tax credit program targeted at low-income families.

Citation

Smeeding, Timothy M., Phillips, Katherin Ross, and O’Connor, Michael (2000), The EITC: Expectation, Knowledge, Use, and Economic and Social Mobility, National Tax Journal, 53:4, pp. 1187-210

DOI: dx.doi.org/10.17310/ntj.2000.4S1.07