NEW UPDATE: Completed trials may now upload and register supplementary documents (e.g. null results reports, populated pre-analysis plans, or post-trial results reports) in the Post Trial section under Reports, Papers, & Other Materials.
Paycheck Plus Atlanta
Initial registration date
December 21, 2018
December 24, 2018 4:35 AM EST
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
The gap between high- and low-income Americans has widened dramatically over the past 40 years, and men without high school degrees saw their real earnings fall by 18 percent between 1977 and 2017. Real earnings for women with similar levels of education also have been stagnant over the same period. One proposal to address this erosion of income for low-wage workers has been to expand the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which supplements the earnings of families by as much as $6,000 a year. But the federal EITC for single tax filers, which is capped at a maximum annual payment of only $487, is much less generous and as a result less effective at increasing employment and reducing poverty. The Paycheck Plus demonstration is testing the effects of a more generous EITC-like earnings supplement for low-income single adults in New York City and Atlanta, Georgia, in which the credit for workers without children is increased to $2,000 and extended to provide benefits to workers earning up to $30,000 per year, with the maximum payment being made to those with earnings between $6,667 and $18,000. A separate entry in the registry documents the test in NYC. This entry documents the test in Atlanta, which includes about 4,000 participants, with 2,000 eligible to receive the expanded credit and 2,000 forming a control group.
The evaluation will test the potential impact of an enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) on income, employment, and earnings for participating single adults. Paycheck Plus will simulate an enhanced EITC but will not offer an actual tax credit nor operate through the city, state, or federal tax systems. The pilot program will mimic the income tax filing process by having participants present their completed annual tax forms to claim the enhanced credit.
The demonstration will offer up to $2,000 a year over a three-year period to participants with earnings of up to nearly $30,000 per year, with the maximum payment being made to those with earnings between $6,667 and $18,000. The pilot test in Atlanta includes about 4,000 participants, with 2,000 eligible to receive the expanded credit and 2,000 forming a control group. Enrollment in Atlanta was run by the project’s operations partner, United Way of Greater Atlanta (UWGA). A range of other agencies also served as recruitment and referral partners.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
(1) Employment (extensive margin); (2) pre-tax annual earnings; and (3) income, as measured with net annual earnings (after bonus and taxes).
The plan (to the extent possible) is to measure the three primary outcomes for the 3 years of the demonstration using administrative tax data following the approach used for the Paycheck Plus New York study (Miller et al. 2018). The primary outcomes will be examined for the full sample and for three sets of subgroup comparisons for Paycheck Plus in Atlanta following Miller et al. (2018) for Paycheck Plus in New York City. The three key subgroup comparisons will be:
(1) Women vs. Men;
(2) More Disadvantaged Men (defined as noncustodial fathers or previously incarcerated men) vs. Other Men;
(3) Participants with Zero Baseline Earnings vs. Low Baseline Earnings ($1 to $10,000) vs. High Baseline Earnings (>$10,000) where baseline earnings are for the year prior to study entry.
Miller, Cynthia, Lawrence F. Katz, Gilda, Azurdia, Adam Isen, Caroline Schulz, and Kali Aloisi. Boosting the Earned Income Tax Credit for Singles: Final Impact findings from the Paycheck Plus Demonstration in New York City. MDRC: New York, NY, September 2018; https://www.mdrc.org/sites/default/files/PaycheckPlus_FinalReport_0.pdf
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The goal of Paycheck Plus to try to improve the employment, earnings, and income of low-income childless single adults. Standard economic theory predicts a (weakly) positive impact of an expanded EITC on employment (measured on the extensive margin) for singles, a (weakly) positive impact on income (as measured by net earnings, or earningsafter taking into account taxes and the bonus), and ambiguous effects on pre-tax earnings.
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Extreme poverty (household annual income below 50 percent of the poverty line); (size-adjusted) household annual income; child-support payments; mental health (depression/anxiety); physical health status; federal tax filing; criminal-justice-system involvement, and family formation.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Paycheck Plus (an expanded EITC) could impact a wide range of outcomes both through any behavioral effects on labor supply and through the receipt of the bonus itself. Participants need to file federal taxes to receive the Paycheck Plus bonus so one also may expect an impact on tax filing rates.
The evaluation of Paycheck Plus uses a random assignment research design, with a program group who is eligible to receive the expanded credit and a control group who is not. Individuals in the program group in each city will be eligible for the credit payments for three years. In Atlanta, individuals can receive the credit for earnings in tax years 2016, 2017, and 2018. Both research groups will be tracked for up to four years to determine the effects of the expanded credit on outcomes.
Enrollment in Atlanta was conducted by that city’s operations partner, United Way of Greater Atlanta, with assistance from several other agencies and referral partners. Data sources will include a baseline survey, IRS tax records, W-2s and 1099s, tax data from participating VITA sites, and administrative records covering unemployment insurance earnings and child-support payments and orders. A participant survey will also be fielded at about 40 months after random assignment and will be administered along with an in-person health exam and finger prick blood spot collection.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization conducted by enrollment staff via computer.
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
2,000 individuals control, 2,000 individuals eligible to receive expanded treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?