Albany Agenda

Gounardes: Working Families Tax Credit ‘still very much on the table’

The New York Immigration Coalition is backing the tax break.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes NYS Senate Media Services

As the state budget nears some version of an end, some lawmakers are trying to find a compromise on the Working Families Tax Credit with the backing of the New York Immigration Coalition. They are pushing for it at a time when the state faces serious affordability issues and not all New Yorkers qualify or can apply for existing tax credits. 

Sponsored by state Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, the legislation combines the Empire State Child Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the dependent exemption into one streamlined credit for families to use. It also would make immigrant tax filers eligible for the credits by accepting their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, and according to examples provided by the NYIC, a filer's credit can quadruple in size.

“In a time when people are deeply concerned about affordability, it behooves us to think about ways to help poor families,” Gounardes said. 

Gounardes added that the bill doesn’t have unilateral support right now, but “certainly it’s still very much on the table.” Some version of the Working Families Tax Credit could make it into the state budget, but the shape of that is unclear, as the Assembly and state Senate’s one-house budgets introduced different language on tax credits.

The Senate proposed a $550 credit per child to single taxpayers making under $75,000 and married taxpayers filing jointly making $130,000. The Assembly proposed an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit to include a wider range of incomes, with a phase-out for single filers with one child earning $56,067 or more, an increase from $49,084. Joint filers with three or more children would see a phase-out at $78,976. However, both proposals were unified in making tax credits more accessible for immigrants.

For some New Yorkers, tax credits can be life-changing. Heidi Lopez, a mother of two from Bushwick, said after she and her husband went through a financial rough patch due to medical issues and his loss of a job, their use of the Empire State Child Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit made it possible for them to purchase a car and address existing debt. 

“We were trying to save a down payment, but the way that our finances and our budget was working, we weren't going to be able to comfortably save for a down payment until the end of 2024, beginning of 2025,” Lopez said. “It actually helped relieving, like OK we’re actually seeing progress out of our situation.”