Comment: New state tax credit will help working families

Importantly, the benefit, up to $1,200 a year, is available to immigrants, regardless of status.

By Tania Correa / For The Herald

As a working mom in Everett, I know how hard it can be to make ends meet. My husband and I just got married a couple years ago, and we had our daughter in 2020.

To us, the most valuable thing we have is time together as a family. We want our daughter to grow up with parents who have the space to be present. Every family in Washington, regardless of immigration status or income level, should be able to afford to do the same for their kids.That’s why I’m so excited about a new state tax credit which launches in 2023, and will provide a direct cash payment of up to $1,200 for lower-income families and working people in Washington.

I know personally how powerful the cash boost from a tax credit can be. Having a baby put a strain on my family’s finances, but the real crisis came when I was forced to leave my job in the middle of the pandemic.

I came to Washington state when I was 16 from Mexico, and I’ve had a work permit through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for over 10 years. People with DACA have to pay to renew our permits every two years, and usually the process takes about two months. Out of the blue, my DACA renewal was delayed for 10 months in 2021, which meant I had to resign from my job at a local nonprofit.

I am someone who has always been resourceful and determined, in part because I had to be. I have been figuring out how to navigate the system since I was a kid, whether that was translating at the doctor’s office for a family member, or helping my parents figure out their taxes.

When my husband and I faced this crisis, I went into problem-solving mode, trying to exhaust every resource at our disposal to stay afloat. During this time, the monthly payment from the federal expanded Child Tax Credit was our lifeline. That monthly boost allowed my husband and I to keep up on bills without completely draining our savings.

Thankfully, my work permit was eventually renewed. I’ve found a new job, and I’ve become an advocate with Northwest Harvest, a nonprofit that works to end hunger statewide. Despite everything, I feel like we are one of the lucky ones, because we’ve always had a roof over our heads. In my work as an advocate, I have seen so many community members, especially immigrants, end up couch surfing or living out of their cars when they lost work during the pandemic (and on top of that, being afraid to apply for any assistance because of their immigration status).

And now, there is support on the way for people across Washington state. When the application launches this February, the Working Families Tax Credit will provide an annual payment of up to $1,200 for lower-income households, depending on income and family size. This cashback will mean people will be better able to pay for emergencies, take time off without stress, and put food on the table.

And, this payment is available for the immigrant community. Undocumented workers and mixed-status families will be eligible, and I want everyone to know it’s safe to apply.

Important note: People can learn more about how to apply for the Working Families Tax Credit, and check their eligibility, at

Free assistance with your application will be available through United Way of King County’s free tax prep program, which will have 16 in-person sites available. The United Way of King County website will be updated with sites and hours in early January.

Select sites will be able to support you with Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) applications or renewals. ITINS are an alternative to a Social Security Number used solely for filing taxes, which are used by undocumented workers, certain student visa holders, and some survivors of domestic violence. People who file their taxes using an ITIN will be eligible for the Working Families Tax Credit.

As we begin a new year, my message to my community is this: take care of each other. It’s not easy, and we are all doing the best we can. This new tax credit will help provide a little relief for families like mine, doing our best to build a safe, supportive life for our kids.

Tania Correa is a mom and advocate. She serves on the Community Advisory Network with Northwest Harvest, an organization that works to end hunger in Washington State. She lives in south Everett.

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