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Newly-elected representative seeks to bring back Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income Oklahomans

OKLAHOMA CITY –As Oklahoma  lawmakers faced a $1.3 billion budget shortfall last legislative session, they made specific choices on what programs and services were cut.

Lawmakers voted to make the Earned Income Tax Credit non-refundable for about 355,000 low-income Oklahomans, saying it would increase tax collections by $29 million in 2017.

The maximum tax credit for a family with two children was $277, while a family of three could receive $312.

“Only working parents and a few working singles can claim the credit,” Rep. Collin Walke said.

The vote was criticized by many, who said legislators overlooked the fact that the recipients of the credit still pay taxes. In some cases, they say they pay even more taxes than some of the wealthiest Oklahomans because of other tax credits and refunds.

“They patched the budget with one-time fixes and on the backs of working families of Oklahoma. In an act of logical contortion that apparently knows no bounds, they believed that tax cuts to the wealthiest would improve the economy, while giving tax cuts to working families who need it most would be inappropriate. They can’t have it both ways, and they know this. It’s time for them to step up to the plate, show some moral courage, and reinstate the Earned Income Tax Credit to help those who desperately need it,” Walke said.

Walke, who is newly elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, says he plans to file legislation soon that would reverse Senate Bill 1604.