Balancing at the Edge of the Cliff: Experiences and Calculations of Benefit Cliffs, Plateaus, and Trade-Offs
Increases in a family’s earnings are often offset by declines in public assistance benefits (commonly called “benefit cliffs” when the declines are sharp) and increases in taxes owed. This report summarizes insights from qualitative interviews with 43 respondents who currently or recently received TANF. Respondents reported experiencing tradeoffs between benefits, taxes, and work. It also presents results from microsimulation modeling of how benefits and taxes respond when income changes, and features 2018 data from Colorado, Minnesota, and New York.