EITC Funders Network eNewsletter
Issue 37 I December 2017 
A Note From the Coordinator
Dear EITC Funders Network,

The United States House and Senate have passed their versions of a sweeping tax overhaul in record time. Although House and Senate negotiators will now work out the differences between the two bills, the potential impact on low- and moderate-income families is already painfully clear. Tax experts explain that the latest version includes cuts that will mostly benefit wealthy households and profitable corporations, raises taxes on middle and lower-income households, and will increase the number of uninsured Americans by repealing the ACA's individual mandate. Moreover, as the CBPP explains, this is likely step one of a two-step tax and budget agenda that enacts costly tax cuts and then pays for them with program cuts that would impact mostly low- and middle-income families.
 
Tax policies are a critical component of public investment in the financial stability and wellbeing of low- and moderate-income families and communities. The research shows that there are paths to using the tax code to responsibly increase access to opportunity for all (see, for instance, MDRC's research on expanding the federal EITC in our most recent Interview with a Researcher). This latest round of potential tax changes, in contrast, could make it even more difficult for our nation's most vulnerable communities to make ends meet, increasing already widening gaps in economic security and wealth.
 
As a network of primarily private funders, we fund programs, research, and innovative practices that support and empower low-income communities. Private foundation dollars can never match what is available through public funding.  Philanthropic investments are built on, in concert with, or in reaction to public investment. Significant changes in public funding will dramatically impact the work of private philanthropy and the people and places we care so deeply about. Let us know how you are thinking about your work in light of these proposed changes and how we can support your efforts.

Sincerely,

Ami Nagle, Coordinator
EITC Funders Network
919-493-4393
ami@eitcfunders.org

Inside This Issue
    • Cynthia Miller, Senior Fellow at MDRC and Project Director for the Paycheck Plus Evaluation
    • The Role of State Tax Policies in Fighting Poverty
    • Behavioral Science Informs Ways to Increase VITA's Impacts
    • Safety Net Programs and Measuring Child Poverty
    • The Growing Racial Wealth Divide
    • Upcoming Webinar: Public Sector, Philanthropic, and Practitioner Collaborations that Strengthen the Impact of the EITC and VITA ---        December 12th at 3pm Eastern
    • Recent Event: Leading from the South: Funders Share Proven Strategies that  Increase Economic Opportunity in the South

interviewInterview with a Researcher
Cynthia Miller, Senior Fellow at MDRC and Project Director for the Paycheck Plus Evaluation

MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research firm, is testing and evaluating a demonstration project  - Paycheck Plus - that offers workers without dependent children an enhanced Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The program is being implemented and evaluated in two U.S. cities - New York, New York and Atlanta, Georgia. The interim results from the evaluation of the first two years of the program in New York City were recently released. We spoke with Cynthia Miller, Project Director for the Paycheck Plus evaluation, to learn more about the interim findings, next steps, and what this project can tell us about public policy efforts.

fieldnewsNews from the Field / Research News
EITC POLICY
The Role of State Tax Policies in Fighting Poverty


With all eyes on the federal tax debates, it's important to not lose sight of tax policy discussions and opportunities in the states. State and local tax systems often make it more difficult for families to make their way out of poverty, but the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) lays out state tax policy tools that can improve tax fairness in its 2017 report on State Tax Codes as Poverty-Fighting Tools. The report provides an overview of anti-poverty tax policies - refundable state EITCs, property tax circuit breakers, targeted low-income credits, and child-related credits - and shares recent state developments as well as concrete policy recommendations. Download the full report: State Tax Codes as Poverty Fighting Tools: 2017 Update on Four Key Policies in All 50 States.  For a recent summary on state tax developments, see also ITEP's latest State Rundown .
OUTREACH & FREE TAX PREP:
Behavioral Science Informs Ways to Increase VITA's  Impact 

The Common Cents Lab within the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University has released a new guide for VITA practitioners aimed at improving VITA-related outcomes by recommending interventions based on behavioral science. The Lab, which studies financial decision making, designed the guide to build on existing best practices. It outlines a series of solutions to further extend the impact of these best practices in order to increase uptake and usage of VITA and to increase refund savings.  For each intervention, the guide explains the behavioral science behind the recommendation and provides practical cost components and accessible materials for implementation. Download the guide: 
BENEFITS ACCESS:
Safety Net Programs and Measuring Child Poverty 

An October report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) demonstrates that federal safety net programs - including refundable tax credits - have driven a significant decline in child poverty over the last decades. Researchers analyzed data from the federal Supplemental Poverty Measure - which includes income from SNAP and other federal non-cash benefits and refundable tax credits - together with Columbia University poverty data and found that when safety net income is taken into account, the child poverty rate was nearly halved from 1967 to 2016. The authors attribute the large decrease in child poverty, in large part, to the creation and expansion of safety net programs, in particular SNAP and the major refundable tax credits. Download the full report:  Child Poverty Falls to Record Low, Comprehensive Measure Shows Stronger Government Policies Account for Long-Term Improvement.
FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT:
The Growing Racial Wealth Divide

The Road to Zero Wealth, a report released this Fall by Prosperity Now and the Institute for Policy Studies, examines the growing racial wealth divide and explores policy interventions that could reverse this trend. The report lays the foundation for a broad policy agenda by emphasizing the importance of gathering sufficient information on the barriers low-wealth households face in order to make informed decisions and then lays out a series of recommendations that both invest in and protect household wealth.  Strengthening the EITC is among the recommendations as one way to generate more income at the bottom of the wage spectrum and the report also highlights the importance of protecting households against predatory and wealth-stripping practices that undermine asset-building efforts, including maintaining the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Download the full report: The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide is Hollowing Out America's Middle Class.
EITC Funders Network Events affinitygroup
Upcoming Webinar:
Through the Funder Lens: Public Sector, Philanthropic and Practitioner Collaborations that Strengthen the Impact of the EITC and VITA
December 12th, 2007 at 3pm Eastern 

Funders recognize that the effectiveness and impact of the EITC are limited by the credit's participation rate and many low-income taxpayers' reliance on costly tax preparation services. At the same time, funders know that philanthropy cannot always take on the vital task of funding grantees to advance the work that addresses these challenges alone. Public sector entities (cities, counties, the state) can be critical partners in this effort. 
To help build awareness of the ways in which private philanthropy works with the public sector in supporting EITC outreach and free tax preparation work, the EITC Funders Network has gathered a selection of funder case studies. 

Join us for this special webinar to hear from funders featured in our new case study publication, learn about collaborative efforts from the public sector's perspective, and help us lay the groundwork for ongoing conversations.

 Speakers include:
  • Patrick Hain, Principal Associate, Financial Empowerment, National League of Cities
  • Nikia Owens, Director, Income and Financial Stability, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey
  • Melanie Styles, Program Officer for Workforce Development, The Abell Foundation

Leading from the South:  Funders Sharing Proven Strategies that Increase Economic Opportunities
December 5, 2017
New Orleans, LA
 
Thank you to all the speakers and participants who joined us on December 5th in New Orleans to learn about and share philanthropic strategies for increasing economic opportunity in the South!  
 
About the EITC Funders Network

The EITC Funders Network brings together funders interested in the Earned Income Tax Credit, free- and low-cost tax preparation, and asset building. The Network seeks to increase awareness of EITC-related projects, foster collaboration, share information about the current status of EITC-related work, and help shape the future of the field. 

The EITC Funders Network is generously funded by:
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation

www.eitcfunders.org