Policy Documents

The Effects of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Recent Reforms

Bruce D. Meyer –
January 1, 2010

In this paper, I first summarize how the U.S. Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) operates and describe the characteristics of recipients. I then discuss empirical work on the effects of the EITC on poverty and the income distribution and its effects on labor supply. Next, I discuss a few policy concerns about the EITC: possible negative effects on hours of work and marriage and problems of compliance with the tax system. I then simulate the effects of the recent expansion of the credit for families with three or more children that were part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. I also reexamine the key assumptions of past work on the labor supply effects of the EITC. Finally, I briefly discuss the likely effects of further expanding the credit to noncustodial parents, as has been recently done in two jurisdictions.