Happy Tax Day! Here’s how we’re all fighting for tax code equity and access
It’s everyone’s favorite day… Tax Day! All jokes aside, while no one likes filling out their taxes every year, the tax code represents one of the most powerful tools we have to combat poverty in the U.S. We saw in 2021 how temporarily expanding refundable tax credits like the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) drastically reduced poverty.
RESULTS advocates were instrumental in helping to create those tax credit expansions. At this very moment, you are raising your voice to restore those credits by meeting with your members of Congress for the Set the Agenda campaign. Your stories and lived experience continue to motivate and convince lawmakers to shift the tax code toward economic justice. As an example of inspirational CTC storytelling, check out the first and second in a series of short videos from RESULTS’ Experts on Poverty.
We also see you getting in your communities and connecting with lawmakers to talk about a new tax credit to support renters in the face of inflation and skyrocketing rents — the Renter Tax Credit (RTC). RESULTS Congressional Hunger Center Fellow, Gabe Hafemann, wrote an impactful blog that includes their housing story and the difference that tax credits can make for a renter.
What you may not know is that RESULTS staff also engages with members of Congress, the Biden-Harris administration, and coalition partners to advocate for another shift in the American tax system — a shift toward accessibility. For far too many families, there are burdens and barriers to filing their taxes that limit access to credits they are owed or cancel out the credits altogether. For instance, the average taxpayer spends 13 hours and $250 each year to file their taxes, losing billions of dollars to commercial tax preparation services. Additionally, 21 percent of EITC eligible filers did not claim their credit, and between four and six million eligible children did not receive their advanced CTC in 2021.
Accessibility to the tax code is especially important for communities who have been marginalized, oppressed, and excluded from support. Groups that often experience undue burden filing their taxes include Black, Latinx, and other families of color, immigrant families including those who need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), indigenous families, families with limited English proficiency, survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual assault, single heads of household, unhoused families, and families or individuals with disabilities. These burdens undermine economic justice.
Congress recently appropriated $80 billion dollars to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to improve taxpayer services and go after wealthy tax cheats. Part of that funding should go towards creating a direct file tool that is free, accessible, and has been designed specifically for, and with the guidance of, families with lived experience of poverty.
A free tool that pre-populates much of the needed information with data already maintained by the IRS would reduce the administrative and financial burden of filing and help advance racial, gender, and economic equity in our tax code. Along with our partners like the Automatic Benefit for Children (ABC) Coalition and its Parent Advisory Board, we will continue to advocate for this tool alongside your advocacy for tax credits so that we can someday say wholeheartedly, with no irony at all, Happy Tax Day!