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Sen. Brown visits city to promote tax credit

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Sherrod Brown

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U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) arrived in Toledo on Friday with twin messages — one for Toledoans to apply for the earned income tax credit if they’re entitled and the other was for the rest of Congress to pass his proposed expansion of the tax credit.

The tax credit is a tax refund for lower-income working families. Senator Brown’s bill would expand the credit to all working adults, whether or not they have children, and make it permanent. It is set to expire after 2017.

Mr. Brown acknowledged the legislation would cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars, but he said it would return refunds to be spent in the community, and it encourages work.

“The whole point of the earned income tax credit is that it rewards work,” Mr. Brown said at his news conference at the East Toledo Family Center, where he was joined by officials of the United Way of Greater Toledo and the East Toledo Family Center. Also joining him were Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak and Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz, as well as Mayor D. Michael Collins.

“We do tax breaks for all kinds of things,” Mr. Brown said. “When you put money in people’s pockets they spend that money and that creates jobs.”

Senator Brown’s bill so far is co-sponsored only by Democrats, but he said he is hopeful it will gain Republican backing because of traditional Republican support for the earned income tax credit. And he said some Republicans may support it as an alternative to raising the minimum wage, another measure that Senator Brown supports.

“The pressure on the earned income tax credit continues to grow, and I think that means that we eventually pass it,” he said.

The average family that qualifies for the current Earned Income Tax Credit gets $2,200.

Standing with the senator was Rose Olea of Toledo and her son, Nathan Sansoucie, 4. Ms. Olea is a full-time chef manager in a fast-food restaurant who is paid $9.35 an hour. She said she received free tax help at the East Toledo Family Center that helps her family pay their bills.

“Without the earned income tax credit it would be hard. We struggle enough as it is. It really helps out a lot,” Ms. Olea said.

Mr. Brown said the free tax advice at the East Toledo family center has helped 250 families get refunds of $116,000. He said 950,000 Ohioans saved more than $2.1 billion through the Earned Income Tax Credit last year, yet thousands of Ohioans miss out on this credit by failing to apply.

Karen Mathison, president and chief executive of the United Way, said free tax preparation provided in the five-county area helped 3,000 taxpayers recoup $4.1 million in 2013.

A spokesman for Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) said he supports the earned income tax credit.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419--724-6058 or an Twitter @TomFTroy.

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