Stimulus checks are no longer a benefit of the past, at least for qualifiable families in Washington.
After more than a decade of advocation and years’ worth of legislative efforts, Washington’s Department of Revenue launched the Working Families Tax Credit on Wednesday. The credit could provide up to a $1,200 refund for those who qualify.
The tax credit is designed to benefit more than 400,000 low-income households in the state. People are eligible based on their income level and how many qualifying children are in the household. A single person can receive up to $300 through the tax credit, and the number increases by $300 for every child up to $1,200 for families with three or more children. The minimum amount based on income of eligible children is $50.
According to the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, the tax credit is the culmination of more than a decade’s worth of work from community advocates.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee posted an article about the tax credit on Medium. Inslee wrote that in 2021, a study found that low-income Washington residents pay 17 percents of their income in taxes, whereas middle-class workers pay 11 percent. People in the wealthiest pay brackets pay 3 percent on average in taxes.
“Programs like the WFTC are righting this upside-down tax structure by making Washington’s tax system less regressive,” Inslee wrote.
The refund program includes a key component—allowing people who file taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to be eligible for the refund as well. People filing taxes with an ITIN include undocumented immigrants and some visa holders. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues ITINs to process tax returns and payments for those who are not eligible for Social Security numbers.
“They are issued regardless of immigration status, because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code,” a webpage by the IRS said about the numbers. “ITINs do not serve any purpose other than federal tax reporting.”
According to Inslee’s Medium article, the state including immigrants in the credit to prioritize inclusivity.
“Because here in Washington, we recognize the dignity of every single person in our community,” president of union SEIU 775 said during a press event announcing the tax credit.
Steps to officially launch the program began in 2021, when Inslee signed the legislation needed to launch the credit.
To apply, qualifiable families can sign up for the credit through the state’s website, or by using an eligible online tax preparer for federal income taxes, such as H&R Block. The Department of Revenue partnered with several tax preparers, but others, like TurboTax won’t include the option.
Several states have passed varying versions of stimulus checks following demand for government action to combat inflation. California has the Middle Class Tax Refund, Colorado has the Colorado Cash Back program and many other states have similar income tax rebate programs.
Newsweek reached out to the Washington Department of Revenue for comment.