Though the big news was that Governor Gina Raimondo announced that she would be calling of an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the minimum wage when she presents her budget during the State of the State address Tuesday evening, the press conference where this was announced was to call attention to VITA, a program to help low and modest-income Rhode Islanders file their taxes and apply for tax credits like the EITC. Raimondo said that if the budget permits, she will push that rate higher.
Even people who have paid no taxes are eligible for EITC rebates, meaning families can receive hundreds or thousands of dollars from the government. But to do so, families must file their taxes. VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) is a program to help people file. “Appointments are highly recommended,” says the webpage on VITA at the You must also bring picture identification for both the applicant and spouse and social security cards for everyone listed on the return.” A list of VITA sites and contact info can be found here.
At the now annual press conference to advertise VITA and the EITC, Governor Raimondo announced her intention to ask that the EITC be raised to 15 percent when she presents her budget. This year the EITC was raised from 10 to 12.5 percent. Connecticut’s program is currently at 30 percent while Massachusetts has just raised their EITC to 23 percent.
The EITC “provides a tax credit and/or refund to people who earn low to moderate wages. The payment is received as part of the end-of-year tax filing period,” says the Economic Progress Institute on their website.
Representative Scott Slater and State Senator Gayle Goldin both praised the announcement that the budget will call for a 15 percent EITC, but both also noted that they have introduced bills and intend to fight to raise the tax credit to 20 percent.
The Governor also announced that she will once again be asking the legislature to raise the state’s minimum wage, which rose to $9.60 this month. Last year the legislature balked at Raimondo’s suggestion for a $10.10 and raised the wage just 60 cents, but also agreed to raise the tipped minimum wage to $3.39 this year and $3.89 next year.
Given that the General Assembly only granted slightly more than half of the minimum wage increase Raimondo included in her budget last year, perhaps the Governor should ask for more than $10.10 this year.
You can watch the relevant parts of the press conference below. The final speaker in the video speaks about the positive effects of the EITC in helping to bring her family out of poverty.