This letter originally appeared as a Reader Letter in the Courier Journal on May 30, 2013. You can find it online here.
I share some of the fears brought up in the recent article, “Kentucky tax reform commissioners fear Gov. Beshear will shelve revenue proposals.” I own a small tire business in Custer, Ky. — a very small town in Breckinridge County. Some know my business as “The Tire Shop” — others as “Bob’s Tires.” I am also politically conservative, believing in limited government. There is one tax commission recommendation, however, that I believe government should play a role in as it is good for both families, and businesses.
Every year starting around February, I begin to see an increase in the number of tires I’m selling. Usually this would not be an especially busy time of year for tire salesmen. Sometimes it might even be hard to pay the monthly phone bill. However, business keeps coming in because many people in Breckinridge County receive the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) with their tax return.
The idea of giving a hand to the working poor isn’t new. Yes, the EITC has been around since the 1970s, but the idea is much older than that. There are Bible stories that recount how the agrarian society used to dedicate the outer border of farmland to the poor, to widows, and to children. The catch was — they had to work the land to reap the benefits.
The EITC works in much the same way. It benefits workers, including many farmworkers in my county, who earn a wage but do not earn quite enough to make larger, necessary purchases like replacing a faulty refrigerator, purchasing a needed table, or buying tires for their car so they can drive to work.
Breckinridge County, like many counties in Kentucky, is rural. You can’t get anywhere without a car and usually have to drive 20 to 30 minutes to get to the grocery, doctor’s office, or anywhere else you want to go.
The federal EITC is good for families and children, and it is good for small businesses.
I ask Kentucky lawmakers to support a state EITC. A Kentucky EITC would build on the federal EITC and provide additional support to families who need the assistance. It would also help small, local businesses like mine.
Custer, Ky. 40115
The writer also is a board member of Kentucky Youth Advocates. — Editor