By Brandi Yee, Chief Program Officer
As we are approaching tax filing season, ACT has been engaging nonprofit partners and community members to help ensure that as many families as possible receive the full Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) benefits they are eligible for, as quickly and as easily as possible. The expansions of the federal CTC and EITC present a critical opportunity to dramatically improve financial stability for families with low income. A key implementation challenge is that families who earn the least do not typically file income tax returns because they are not required to. Therefore, the IRS has no record of them, and they will not get the EITC refund. These expansions can only achieve their goals if families know about the credits, are able to enroll, and can get their taxes done in free and non-predatory settings. This is where ACT and Alexandria nonprofits come in!
The EITC Funders Network selected ACT as a partner in helping to get the word out about these credits knowing the trusted relationships our community foundation has with nonprofit partners and the work we did with the 2020 Census. While we know nonprofit organizations are not tax experts, we do know they have trusted relationships with community members and can share about the benefits of filing taxes and dispel some of the myths around filing. ACT has offered mini grants up to $5,000 to support these efforts. Some of the activities we are supporting include:
- Outreach and awareness – helping to explain the process, options for tax filing and what to expect
- Navigating the tax filing process – assisting with acquiring necessary documents for filing, uploading photos of documents and helping filers find a free tax prep site that fits their schedule and needs
- Providing Wi-Fi or technology access for filers
- Hosting pop up filing events in partnership with tax experts
- Making sure resources are accessible in multiple languages
- Recording testimonials/storis (video, audio or written) to highlight the benefits of filing and the tax credits
- Other ideas that are specific to the organization and the needs of their constituents
Two recent grantees include Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center and Restoration Immigration Legal Aid.
Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center serves immigrant and refugee communities and is a resource hub supporting food distributions and assistance enrolling individuals in public benefits and applying for affordable housing and health insurance. With grant funding they developed a “did you know?” series about the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit to share with their clients in multiple languages and incorporated tax filing into their prescreening questions. They recently hosted a tax prep clinic with interpretation and translation provided in Arabic, Dari and Spanish. One filer just found out they are eligible for different credits and will be receiving a refund of $11,200.
Restoration Immigration Legal Aid (RILA) supports immigrants in the community by providing excellent, pro bono immigration legal assistance to those who are most vulnerable and who have the fewest resources. They recently hosted two pop up tax clinics and conducted outreach with all of their clients who have a Tax ID number or Social Security Number.
“When clients file taxes for the first time, they view it as a rite of passage and a legitimacy to being paid fairly with a work permit. And they become part of a larger community…and part of the American fabric.” Campbell Vogel, RILA Director of Partnerships
For more information and resources, please visit: https://www.actforalexandria.org/initiatives/t/earned-income-tax-credit/ and encourage Alexandrians to file at: https://www.getyourrefund.org/alx
Photo credit: Restoration Immigration Legal Aid