Christine Stuart photo
The clergy made a trip to the state Capitol Wednesday to remind legislators they were elected to public service to do good. And they can’t do better than support a state Earned Income Tax Credit.

Rev. Jesse White said Connecticut may be the richest state in the country, but it also has the third largest gap between the highest income earners and the lowest. Rev. Terry Davis of the Greater Hartford Interfaith Coalition for Equity and Justice didn’t come to the Capitol “hat in hand demanding a handout for the poor. We came here demanding justice.”

Davis said originally considerations for the poor had been written into the income tax code, but over the years the affluent pay less of their total income than the poor. An EITC will “do justice for the poor.”

Many may not understand that those who make less than $30,000 a year are unable to claim deductions on their state taxes unless they own property, which for many at that income level is only a dream. The top 1 percent of Connecticut families earning over $500,000 paid approximately 4.4 percent of their income in taxes. Those who earned less than $21,000 annually paid 10.3 percent of their income in taxes, according to a report compiled by the Connecticut Association for Human Services.

Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said even though some of the low wage earners don’t pay income taxes they pay more in sales and property taxes.

The EITC may be the last thing on most legislators minds, since many of them would not qualify for it. Rev. James Walker, said legislators need to remember or need to come to know what it means to be a low wage earner.

Where do these low wage earners live? According to a report from CT Voices for Children they live in every senate and house district in the state.

While a bulk of those who qualify for the EITC credit live in cities like Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport there are other communities with a surprising numbers of federal EITC returns.

For example in Sen. President Donald Williams’ district 5,239 EITC returns were filed in 2004. Williams represents the towns of Brooklyn, Canterbury, Killingly, Mansfield, Putnam, Scotland, Thompson and Windham. In Sen. William Nickerson’s district that includes Greenwich, New Canaan, and part of Stamford 1,889 EITC returns were filed and in Sen. Andrew McDonald’s district that includes the bulk of Stamford and Darien there were 4,632 EITC returns filed.

Looney who has been pushing for this legislation for several years said “This is the year,” the state enacts an EITC.