Earned Income and Child Tax Credit Campaigns

The Basic Idea:

Pull out all the stops to let families know they may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other tax credits, like the Child Tax Credit (CTC).

How it works:

  • A community coalition gathers to plan a campaign.
  • Media are enlisted to run Public Service Announcements or paid ads.
  • Ad content is developed or borrowed from resource organizations such as the National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • Flyers are developed offering basic information on the EITC and other credits and where to go for tax return preparation help.
  • The campaign typically starts with a splashy media kickoff or in a small town with a town meeting or event—and is often scheduled in early January because low-income families get their taxes done early.
  • Whenever possible, the campaign piggybacks with existing community events to boost exposure.

Who Does It:

Typically a coalition of local partners, which can include:

  • Nonprofit organization
  • Government agencies
  • Media organizations (radio, TV, newspapers)
  • Public officialsli>
  • Religious groups
  • Service clubs
  • Tax preparers (but be careful—some overcharge families and sell expensive refund anticipation loans)

Pros

  • It is easy to do—instant gratification!
  • There are lots of resource materials available to help.
  • It can be low cost if you avoid paid advertising.
  • It builds a community “buzz” which can help with other RuFES activities.
  • It is popular with elected officials once you explain the economic impact.

Cons

  • Some media outlets may be reluctant to help without paid advertising.
  • It is almost impossible to directly measure the impact.

Simplicity Index

  • An Especially Low-Hanging Fruit. For many communities, this is the first RuFES Action Idea they take on.

Quilt It

  • The EITC Campaign connects families to other Keep It and Grow It action!

Examples and Resources

The EITCplatform.org is a shared platform that provides group discounts, products and resources for programs involved in EITC outreach, free tax preparation and asset-building.

National Community Tax Coalition (NCTC) is the trade group for organizations trying to boost use of the EITC and other tax credits for working families.

The Internal Revenue Service has many free resources and publications available to promote the EITC.

The EITC Carolinas is a model statewide resource network designed to help communities help their working families obtain EITC refunds and make smart financial decisions.

The Lakes and Praries Community Action operates a rural demonstration site for conducting EITC campaigns in the Fargo ND, Moorhead MN area.

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RuFES is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group.
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