Harold Wilson - Page 10

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                              (iv) no amount received for                             
                              services provided by an individual while                
                              the individual is an inmate at a penal                  
                              institution shall be taken into account,                
                              * * *                                                   
               Respondent contends that section 32(c)(2)(B)(iv) precludes             
          petitioner from qualifying for the earned income credit insofar             
          as all of the wages that petitioner earned during 1999 constitute           
          amounts that petitioner received for services that he provided to           
          TEK while he was an inmate at a penal institution.  Petitioner              
          counters that respondent’s construction of section                          
          32(c)(2)(B)(iv) is incorrect on the ground that a prisoner’s                
          earnings for services provided to a private business are not                
          excluded from the computation of the earned income credit.                  
               In construing a statute, courts generally seek the plain and           
          literal meaning of its language.  See United States v. Locke, 471           
          U.S. 84, 93, 95-96 (1985); United States v. American Trucking               
          Associations, Inc., 310 U.S. 534, 543 (1940).  For that purpose,            
          courts generally assume that Congress uses common words in their            
          popular meaning.  See Commissioner v. Groetzinger, 480 U.S. 23,             
          28 (1987), affg. 771 F.2d 269 (7th Cir. 1985).                              
               Based upon the plain language of section 32(c)(2)(B)(iv), we           
          conclude that the wages that petitioner earned during 1999 are              
          not taken into account in computing the earned income credit.               
          Petitioner was an inmate at a penal institution throughout the              
          taxable year 1999, and all wages for services provided by inmates           

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