Campaign partners recruit and train more than 500 community volunteers and manage free tax assistance sites throughout the city each tax season. During the 2012 filing season, 5,500 taxpayers filed at our tax sites, claiming more than $7 million in tax refunds.
Goals of the Campaign
The DC EITC Campaign is a citywide, cross-sector initiative that educates the public about income tax benefits that promote greater economic security. Our goals are to:
(1) To promote awareness of the federal and DC Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other tax benefits to ensure that eligible residents know how to claim them.
Through an extensive marketing effort, the Campaign informs taxpayers about the Earned Income Tax Credit and how to claim it. Strategically distributed posters and flyers as well as radio and public service announcements explain why individuals should file federal and DC income tax returns, what materials they will need, and where they can get tax preparation assistance.
Approximately 50,000 DC residents claim the federal EITC each year, channeling more than $90 million in federal funds into the local community. Additionally, roughly 46,300 of these taxpayers claim another $30 million through local EITC refunds.
Although these numbers are substantial and have grown since the Campaign was founded in 2000, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that there are still roughly 7,000-11,000 EITC-eligible DC residents who may not be claiming the federal or local credit, and an additional 3,600 who claim the federal credit, but not the local EITC. Sustained outreach to the local community about the Earned Income Tax Credit is essential given that many DC residents become EITC-eligible each year due to changes in income, marital status, and household members.
(2) To promote free and affordable tax preparation for DC residents.
The DC EITC Campaign works with the Internal Revenue Service to promote free tax assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. In addition to the EITC, there are numerous federal and DC tax benefits of which taxpayers may not be aware – from education and first-time homebuyer credits to deductions for pension benefits. Campaign members provide information on these topics, as well as on taxpayer rights and responsibilities. Through news articles, community presentations, financial seminars, and tax site assistance, our goal is to help taxpayers to see that understanding the tax system is an important part of financial management.
(3) To connect low-income taxpayers with programs and services to improve their financial stability.
Claiming tax benefits and refunds is one important step toward increasing income and savings, but our goal is to connect taxpayers with year-round economic support. During the tax season and throughout the year, we work to promote and expand access to: free financial education and savings programs, one-on-one credit counseling, and affordable banking products and services.
As a project of a broader citywide effort to promote savings in the District, the DC EITC Campaign continues to build new partnerships with government agencies, nonprofit agencies, financial institutions, and local employers to achieve this goal.