Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-76) 27 pp

May 2011

Federal Tax Policies and Low-Income Rural Households

The authors analyze the increasing use of refundable tax credits targeted to low- and moderate-income households in the Federal individual income tax and determine their implications for rural America. To identify rural and urban households, the analysis matches a zip code approximation of the 2006 Rural-Urban Commuting Area Codes with Internal Revenue Service Individual Income Tax zip code and related data. These data are then used to examine the impact of the recent expansions to income tax credit programs on affected households. The analysis finds that expansions to both the refundable and nonrefundable portions of the Earned Income and Child Tax credits have provided a major source of income support for low-income workers and their families. This is especially true in the South, where the rural poor are concentrated.

Keywords: Earned income credit, child credit, rural households, poverty, tax policy, refundable tax credits

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