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Increasing Enrollment in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)  
 

The Public Affairs Program's EITC Project seeks to help enroll more eligible residents in the EITC Program. Several sources claim that a significant percentage of working poor do not take advantage of their eligibility for EITC. The program could increase income of the working poor as much as 20% of their annual salary and bring millions of dollars into the community. Increasing enrollment has the potential of both reducing poverty and promoting economic development. (See more on the EITC program below)
 
The Project’s founder was Maggie Tarasovitch, a 2016 Policy Studies graduate. She saw the potential impact and decided to do something about it. With advice and support from Professor Bill Coplin and the Public Affairs program, Ms. Tarasovitch designed and taught a one credit course in the Spring 2016 semester under the supervision of Economics Professor Donald Dutkowsky. 
 
The students in the course became certified through the Internal Revenue Service’s VITA program. The students volunteered at the VITA sites during the 2016 tax season, filing taxes for low-income tax payers. Ms. Tarasovitch has worked closely with the IRS office in Albany and with the five sites in Onondaga County which collaborate though the CASH Coalition coordinated by the United Way.  In addition to providing volunteers to help in the operation of the VITA sites, the Project will develop publicity material and seek support from City and County Officials.  With the EITC legislation needing renewal in 2017 to continue operation, students in the project are exploring ways to lobby for the continuation and increase in the program.  
 
Nate Birnbaum, a 2017 graduate, took over leadership in 2016-17 and Jack Ethan Schlosser, a current student, is managing the project for 2017-2018. Jack can be reached at jeschlos@syr.edu.
 
Some Additional Information on the EITC Program.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit that can reduce the amount of income taxes owed and actually refund any additional credit money to the taxpayer. Residents earning under a certain income (about $53,000) qualify for the credit, which is determined based on adjusted gross income, number of qualifying children in the household, and marital status. The impact of this program is noticeable, lifting 6.2 million people out of poverty, half of whom are children (2013). In contrast to other social programs, which many argue de-incentivize work, studies show that the EITC increases aggregate hours worked by those that use it. Though this policy is effective, it still is not reaching its full potential. Many people who qualify either do not know about the policy or do not want to pay a tax preparer to file their taxes. To address this need, the IRS sponsors Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites in which qualifying recipients can have their taxes prepared for free.
 
For more information, contact wdcopllin@syr.edu