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Income Influences Health: It’s Time for a State Earned Income Tax Credit in Georgia

On March 9, 2022, Georgians for a Healthy Future (GHF) joined the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute for the Georgia Work Credit virtual rally*. The event helped Georgians learn more about the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and why Georgia needs one. GHF enthusiastically participated because a state EITC can provide real health benefits for Georgia families!

The EITC is a public health intervention that boosts incomes and health outcomes for working people earning low wages. Income has a big influence on health, especially for people with low incomes. People with low or moderate incomes have less access to health services than people with higher incomes. They also struggle to afford other resources that improve health, like stable housing or healthy foods.

Policies like the EITC can lessen the impact of poverty on the health of Georgians and reduce racial health gaps.

In 2018, the federal EITC lifted about 5.6 million Americans out of poverty, including almost 3 million children. The tax credit helps families meet daily needs, may improve health outcomes for mothers and infants, boosts children’s educational skills, and increases their earnings as adults.

Up to 1.5 million Georgia children and 2 million adults could benefit from a state EITC. The adults who would most benefit often work in low-wage jobs, like transportation, construction, food service, and retail (these are many of the same uninsured workers who are stuck in the Medicaid coverage gap). Georgians could use the EITC to pay bills, reduce debt, pay rent, or make a security deposit for a rental unit. These opportunities and easier afford necessities like groceries could improve the lives and health of low-income Georgia families.

A state EITC could improve the health of Georgians in at least three ways:

1. Increased access to health care for mothers and infants
2. Lowered stress, and
3. Improved nutrition.

Studies show that pregnant women receiving a state EITC accessed prenatal care earlier and more often than other pregnant women. More generous state EITCs are linked to healthier birth weights for infants. States with refundable EITCs have improved health for both moms and babies. In Georgia, Black mothers are more likely to deliver low birthweight babies than mothers of other races. A state EITC would help reduce this racial health gap.

Long-term stress about money and finances can negatively affect the health of families living in poverty. A state EITC would provide families with an income boost. With the extra money, they could live more securely, move up the income ladder, and stress less about how to afford essentials like groceries.

One in every eight (12%) Georgia families do not have enough to eat. Many more struggle to afford healthy food. A shortage of healthy foods can damage a child’s health now and over their lifetime. People who receive a state EITC tend to spend more money on food than they could previously. This makes families more food secure and allows them to buy healthier foods.

30 states have adopted an EITC as a proven tool to improve the health of working people in their states. Georgia lawmakers should do the same and pass a Georgia Work Credit that delivers better health for Georgia families.

Learn more about the health impacts of an EITC and what you can do to advocate for the Georgia Work Credit:

  • Individuals: connect with the Georgia Work Credit coalition at georgiaworkcredit.org.
  • Organizations: Georgians for a Healthy Future is recruiting a diverse group of health organizations and entities to support advocacy efforts for an EITC in Georgia. Please contact Knetta Adkins, Organizing Manager, kadkins@healthyfuturega.org for more information.

*Use passcode jrp.T2t^ to view the recording

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