Photo depicting hands holding a paper family cutout.

OPINION | The Promise of the Working Families Tax Credit Is Support for Communities to Thrive

by My Linh Thai

For families across our state, so much has been at stake in their lives in the last few years. People have been struggling to make rent, provide for their kids, and stay afloat financially. That’s why I was so proud in 2021 to finally pass and fund the Working Families Tax Credit, an annual payment of up to $1,200 for Washingtonians with low to moderate incomes. 

When launched in February 2023, the Working Families Tax Credit stands to reach more than 400,000 Washington households and will benefit one in every three kids in our state. When combined with the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, this cash will go even farther. This boost will help people to pay for school supplies, put food on the table, and save for emergencies, and it will have an outsized benefit for communities of color, who make up 36% of eligible households compared to 25% of the state population. 

People who file their taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which includes undocumented immigrants, some student visa holders, and some survivors of intimate partner violence, will be eligible for this payment. These same people are often excluded from other supports, like unemployment insurance or the Earned Income Tax Credit, so it’s critical to make sure they know they are eligible for this benefit and that it’s safe to apply.

When I think about the impact of the Working Families Tax Credit, I reflect on the support my family could have used when they came to Washington State as newly arrived refugees. I saw my parents struggling with a language barrier, trying to support their kids, and working hard to build a life here. Every parent in Washington should be able to build a dream for their kids, regardless of their zip code or the dollar amount on their paycheck. And kids should be able to grow up knowing their dreams are safe, that many opportunities await them, and that they are the authors of their future.

Illustration by Taylor Yingshi

I’m so excited to see people start to get this support, and there’s still more we can do to lift people out of poverty. Simple expansions to the Working Families Tax Credit would mean more people who need this help can access it. 

For example, people without children who are younger than 25 or older than 65 are currently not eligible for this credit, and the income cap for this same group is very low. It’s time we expand this relief to young people and seniors with low incomes, as well as to low-income students in community college, trades schools, or four-year degree programs. And making sure people who file “married filing separately” can receive the full amount they are eligible for would have a big impact for survivors of domestic violence. 

I want to live in a Washington where people feel that they belong, that they are trusted, and that their community has their back. Everyone in our state should have the opportunities and support they need to thrive, and the Working Families Tax Credit can help do that. I urge all of you to spread the word to your neighbors and loved ones that this tax credit will be available to them in 2023. Let’s make sure every single eligible household applies and receives their cash. 

An important note: Free help applying for the Working Families Tax Credit is available in King County through United Way’s Free Tax Prep program. Support will be available at select sites for people applying for their Individual Taxpayer Identification Number for themselves or their children. United Way will update their sites and hours in January. Learn more at the United Way of King County website

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My-Linh Thai serves as State Representative for Washington’s 41st Legislative District. She is proud to be the first refugee elected to the Washington State House of Representatives.

📸 Featured Image: Photo by SewCream/

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