Earned Income Tax Credit Day Kick-Off Event

Earned Income Tax Credit Day Kick-Off Event
Worcester Community Action Council
Worcester, MA
January 27, 2012

Good morning.  Thank you, Jill, for that kind introduction and for hosting this event. It’s a pleasure to be here.

I want to recognize Joe Diamond  and Ditzah Wooden-Wade, for their work on the Community Services Block Grant. 

And I’m very pleased to be with my IRS partner, Debra Holland and a host of Massachusetts dignitaries who you will hear from later, as well as people who know from personal experience what a boon the EITC can be. 

Because of my career path, I have gained some understand of the challenges low income families face when they try to achieve a measure of financial security.

These challenges have starkly increased in the past few years, when everyone has felt the effects of the turndown in our economy—and no group has suffered more than those who were already living on the edge of solvency.

A light in this dark picture has been the Earned Income Tax Credit. 

Last year, because of the EITC, 6.6 million people, half of them children, were actually lifted out of poverty.  Without the EITC, the U.S. poverty rate would have increased by 18 percent!

That makes it one of the most important anti-poverty programs in the country.

Among those 6.6 million is a woman named Donna.

Donna was a client at a community action agency in Maryland.  She has a long history of mental health problems and homelessness.  Finally at the age of 60, she found a part time job with the aid of a variety of services from the agency.

And that’s not all the agency helped her with—now it’s also the place where she gets her taxes done with the assistance of a volunteer tax preparer. Last year, Donna and the VITA volunteer were ecstatic to find that because of the EITC and the support she provides to her disabled son, Donna would receive a $3,000 refund!

That meant that Donna could buy a car and go to the dentist. She even began to build a secure future for her son by purchasing savings bonds.

I know there are folks with stories like Donna’s in this room—stories of hope, of opportunity, of hard work paying off in a way that makes you want to work even harder.

EITC is part of the fabric of hope. It creates that opportunity.  It shows working people that their current reality need not be their future destiny.

ACF and the IRS are committed to helping other working low-income individuals keep more of what they earn and use it to climb out of poverty.  This is also an enormous priority for the President who continues to create initiatives that foster economically secure and resilient communities.

All across America, community action agencies are working with the IRS and local partners to provide VITA services, financial literacy, and other benefits that help people become self-sufficient. 

In 2011, because of community action agencies, almost 400,000 low income individuals got the tax credits to which they are entitled.

However, 20 to 25 percent of eligible taxpayers do NOT take advantage of the EITC and other resources that would help them build a sound financial future.

That’s what we want to change.  It is absolutely critical that Americans with low incomes become aware of these programs that reward responsibility and create a ladder upward into the middle class.

These programs are a pivotal part of our effort to foster healthy, independent families and communities.

We are happy to have the IRS and a host of local agencies as our partners in this vital effort. 

This is agency to agency collaboration at its best—we’re getting rid of bureaucratic barriers wherever they exist so that we can accomplish something very important—and that’s to have more success stories like the ones we’ll hear today.

So once again, thanks to all of our partners for coming together for this great event.

We are eager to continue working together support the long term success of families in need.

Thank you.