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State Senators Vote to Cut Oklahoma's Earned Income Tax Credit

Matt Trotter

Senators approve a proposal to cut funding for Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit.

The measure they approved would make the credit non-refundable, which would save the state around $28 million a year. Religious leaders last week called on state leaders to preserve the credit because cutting it would disproportionately affect poor working families.

Sen. Roger Thompson said churches are shirking their responsibility.

"Churches need to rise up and feed those that are hungry, care for those that are hurting," Thompson said. "It was Jesus who said, 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's.' He did not instruct Caesar to render unto the poor those things that are to the poor."

Sen. John Sparks said this time last year, lawmakers were passing a tax cut that would give the average Oklahoman an extra $40.

"That was enough to send out press releases about all the great things we were doing," Sparks said. "But here we've got a program that's eliminating up to around $300 for families [with] two and three kids."

The measure passed 30–11 and now goes to the House. More than 330,000 households claimed the state Earned Income Tax Credit in 2014.

An analysis says making the credit non-refundable will increase taxes on families making less than $71,000 a year. A married couple with three children would see their taxes increase $313.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.