EITC: The Difference Between a Home and Homelessness
Domesic Hunger Fellow Allison Burkey and I have begun contacting Volunteer Tax Income Assistance (VITA) programs across the country and we have already heard some amazing stories.
VITA is a free tax preparation service that is sponsored by the IRS. They partner with volunteers or existing groups, such as United Way, to provide free income tax assistance for families with incomes of $50,000 or less. It is important that these families get help filing their taxes because they are the ones who are typically eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, one of the largest the most effective anti-poverty programs in the United States. Additionally, many times paid tax preparers can fail to inform families about their eligibility and charge high fees.
We are collecting localized data for our RESULTS groups all across the country so that they can share the impact that the EITC and CTC have in your communities. It is particularly important to use localized data so that members of Congress can see how large federal programs affect the people that they represent. I want to share a story with you about an individual who received the EITC.
This man was down on his luck. He was unable to afford his housing and therefore resorted to living in his car. Things took a turn for the worse when his car broke and he was thus unable to live in that. Luckily, a local VITA site was able to help him file his taxes and he received a $6,000 credit from the EITC. This $6,000 was literally life changing. He repaired his car and put three months of payment down on an apartment. The EITC can be the difference between a home and homelessness.
We are so excited to be talking to people across the U.S. and learning all the ways that the EITC is benefiting individuals. This week on our monthly conference call, Ann Boer, a wonderful RESULTS activist from Columbus, OH shared some of the resources that she has used to get localized data. The first is the IRS itself! They have the most recent state-by-state data on the EITC. The Brookings Institute also has very detailed tax credit information from 2008. Here you can get information specific to your congressional district!
Hope Ann’s suggestion are a good starting point and we will be sharing our additional data as it comes.