Montgomery County is restoring a tax break for low-income working families.
The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a bill requiring an increase in the county’s Working Families Income Supplement, which provides money to taxpayers working at or near the poverty level.
The increase could help people make a car payment they otherwise might have missed, which could have jeopardized their ability to get to work and put their job at risk, said Councilman Hans Riemer (D-At Large) of Silver Spring, who sponsored the bill.
Many community groups in the county strongly supported the bill, Riemer said.
A county memorandum on the issue reported that representatives of Catholic Charities, the Justice and Advocacy Council of Montgomery County, Progressive Maryland and Maryland Hunger Solutions, among other groups, supported the bill at a July public hearing.
Councilwoman Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) of Garrett Park said she’s always voted for a full match by the county, and she hopes the county will be able to do more in the future in other areas.
“I’m fine with this solution, but I’m hopeful we can do better in the coming years depending on the resources available,” Floreen said.
Council Vice President Craig Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown said he’d like to see the county take a more comprehensive approach.
The income supplement itself won’t lift anyone out of poverty, and with many federal programs facing cuts, the county will have to do more, Rice said.
Maryland residents can claim a credit for up to half of their federal earned income tax credit, and a refund of up to one quarter of the federal credit, according to a county release.
In 2000, Montgomery started matching 100 percent of the Maryland refund to help residents afford the high cost-of-living in the county. But a bill passed in 2010 allowed the council to set the county income supplement at less than 100 percent of the state refundable credit by passing a resolution each year.
In fiscal 2011, the county supplement was set at 72.5 percent, 68.9 percent in fiscal 2012 and 75.5 percent in fiscal 2013.
In May, the council approved an increase in the supplement to 85 percent of the state refundable credit for fiscal 2014.
The bill passed Tuesday requires the county supplement to increase to 90 percent in fiscal 2015, 95 percent in fiscal 2016 and 100 percent in fiscal 2017 and beyond.
According to an analysis by the county’s Finance Office, the funding increase in fiscal 2015 will cost the county an additional $1.016 million.
In fiscal 2011, 33,840 Montgomery residents qualified for the supplement, receiving an average of $381.81, according to the county. Restoring the county match to 100 percent would provide an extra $124 per person.
To qualify for the earned income tax credit for the tax year 2013, a resident with three or more qualifying children must make less than $46,227, or $51,567 if filing jointly with a spouse.
A taxpayer with no qualifying children must make less than $14,340 or $19,680 if filing jointly.