By Lydia Pendley and Kathryn C. Sherlock

The working families of New Mexico and the nation are the backbone of our economic and cultural identity. Working families are so essential that our city, state and nation have created public policies and programs designed to help them to survive.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) are just such tools. Both programs encourage low and middle-income people to work, even when their jobs pay too little to live on. These tax-credit programs also keep millions of children out of poverty each year, building a stronger future for our next generation.

The EITC for low-income working individuals and families is a refundable federal income tax credit. It has received bipartisan support since Congress passed it in 1975. The EITC is designed to "make work pay" by decreasing the impact of taxes that low-wage workers pay on their earnings by supplementing their wages. The intention is to move a family with a full-time minimum-wage worker above the poverty line. The EITC is the largest poverty-reduction program in the U.S., and, in 2009, it was expanded as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to provide more help to married couples and low-income families with three or more children. In 2009, the EITC lifted 6.6 million people out of poverty, half of them children.

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