Low-income families in D.C. could be missing out on up to $250 a month if they don’t file their tax return by April 18.
The monthly basic income program, which was incorporated into the fiscal year 2022 budget, provides families that earn between $10,000 to $40,000 annually with monthly stipends to manage family expenses.
However, the program requires eligible families to file their tax return in order to benefit—something that many low-income families don’t do because they don’t make enough money to file taxes.
“The most important point is this: folks who might not otherwise file their taxes should this year, because they’re leaving money on the table if they don’t,” said Councilmember Charles Allen, who introduced the idea of the program back in July 2021, in a press release. “Money that could be used for diapers, for school uniforms, for food, for car repairs or Metro fare—whatever is most urgent in their monthly budget.”
The program was developed out of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which allows low-income families, particularly those with children, to claim a refundable tax credit when they file their federal tax return. Families that qualify for the federal EITC can have their credit matched by the District of Columbia’s locally-funded EITC, as long as they file their District Individual Income Tax Return.
D.C. is using that local EITC to create the monthly basic income program. Through the monthly basic income program, families can expect to receive their D.C. credit in monthly checks ranging from $50 to $250, instead of one annual payment as it has been in the past as it has been in the past. The total is expected to increase to as much as $500 per month in the coming years, although the exact amount families can expect to receive depends on their income and family size.
“We’re not talking about a pilot program or a grant,” Allen said in the press release. “This is here to stay, and it’s a change that’s going to help tens of thousands of D.C. families struggling to make ends meet right now.”