New York Citi Community Development today released Money Matters, a market-specific publication appearing in 16 states across the United States that encourages working taxpayers to take advantage of refunds available through the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The publication, the centerpiece of Citi's second annual national EITC awareness campaign, also highlights the availability of free tax preparation services through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The publications are available in English and Spanish at www.citicommunitydevelopment.com.
"Filing for the EITC can mean reclaiming much-needed money that could be used to bolster family savings, invest in small businesses or prepare for college expenses," said Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development. "Citi and our community partners across the country remain committed to ensuring that all eligible families have the support and resources they need to reclaim money that can really make a difference in challenging economic times."
The Earned Income Tax Credit
The EITC enables working people who earn approximately $50,000 or less per year to keep more of their earnings through a tax refund. The IRS estimates that four out of five eligible people claim and receive the EITC, and last year eligible filers received $62 billion in EITC refunds. However, many people, including millions of eligible workers who qualified for the EITC for the first time in 2012, don't know about the EITC or that they must file an income tax return in order to claim the benefit. Every year, 20 percent of eligible taxpayers still do not file for the EITC, leaving billions of dollars unclaimed.
About the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program
The VITA Program generally offers free tax help to people who make $51,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities, and can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify, including the EITC. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations.
Citi developed Money Matters to help connect eligible taxpayers with local community organizations that provide or promote free tax assistance. Money Matters includes essential information about the VITA program and the EITC; wise ways to save money; tips for stress-free tax filing; and the benefits of having a bank account.
The importance of Citi's EITC awareness efforts is reinforced by public officials and thought leaders around the country:
Delaware Governor Jack Markell: "The EITC puts money back in the pockets of working families. It's an important boost for them and for the Delaware economy. I'm proud of our private and non-profit partners that are working together to support this initiative."
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn: "One of the best ways to stimulate the local economy is to put more money back in the pockets of working families. This year, I signed a new historic law to double the tax relief available for working families in Illinois by doubling the EITC over the next two years."
Jonathan Mintz, Commissioner, New York City Department of Consumer Affairs: "Thanks to our certified volunteers at our network of free VITA sites, tens of thousands of New Yorkers were able to avoid high fees and secure millions of dollars in EITC returns during the 2012 tax season. To get that refund, which could amount to as much as $7,900, we're making it easier than ever."
California State Senate President Pro Temp Darrell Steinberg: "Tax forms can be daunting and overwhelming. Many families don't even realize they may be eligible for tax credits to help ease their tax burden. Working families have enough on their plate this year and every little bit helps."
Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent C. Gray: "As one of the nation's largest anti-poverty programs, the EITC helps low-income adults and families keep more money in their pockets. The District government is proud of its continued support of this campaign and the aid it provides to our residents."
Michael Sherraden, Director, Center for Social Development at Washington University: "VITA tax preparation sites are an invaluable public resource. Instead of being ripped off by high fees and predatory refund schemes, low-income tax filers at VITA sites get honest service that is in their best interest. This quality tax service enables some families to put a portion of refunds aside as savings, making their lives more stable."
Money Matters will reach taxpayers in the following states:
For more about how the EITC and VITA program boost the economic security of working families, read Bob Annibale's commentary on the New America Foundation's asset building blog The Ladder.
Citi Community Development
Citi Community Development is leading Citi's commitment to achieve economic empowerment and growth for underserved individuals, families and communities by expanding access to financial products and services, and building sustainable business solutions and innovative partnerships. Our focus areas include: commercial and philanthropic funding; innovative financial products and services; and collaborations with institutions that expand access to financial products and services for low-income and underserved communities. For more information, please visit www.citicommunitydevelopment.com.