Tax Policies to Help Working Families in Cities

Alan Berube, Tracy Kornblatt, and William G. Gale

This paper examines ways that federal tax policy could improve the economic prospects of low- and middle-income working families in cities. We show how existing federal tax rules affect these families, and that a variety of public policies are available to provide better economic opportunities and incentives for these households. In particular, policies that expand and modify the child care and dependent care tax credit, the saver’s credit, and subsidies for health insurance, or that alter the structure of homeownership subsidies away from deductions and toward capped credits for homeownership, have the potential to improve economic prospects for millions of working families who live in urban areas. The significant link between federal tax policies and the welfare of households in cities is an area of growing awareness and increasing importance and should receive the attention of both urban leaders and federal policy makers in the future.