EITC Funders Network eNewsletter
Issue 43 | June 2019
A Note from the Coordinator
Dear EITC Funders Network,
 
As a mostly virtual network, we truly value the times we have a chance to meet with funder members in person to discuss key developments and learnings and to create connections. Last week we traveled to Seattle, Washington for two in-person meetings in the Pacific Northwest.

Together with Philanthropy Northwest and the Puget Sound Asset Funders Network, we were honored to co-host a conversation exploring the landscape of tax policy and structures in the Pacific Northwest and the opportunities to create pathways to racial equity and economic opportunity.  The meeting was a powerful opportunity to discuss the role funders can play, in their internal and external efforts, to support racial equity and economic security on a local level.
Darrick Hamilton, Executive Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Ohio State University provides examples of the ways equity and the tax code are intertwined and proposes questions philanthropy can consider.
We also were thrilled to coordinate a session at the 2019 GIH Annual Conference on Health Philanthropy on the EITC and improving health outcomes.The session provided an opportunity for funders to learn more about the growing body of research exploring the relationship between tax credit receipt and improvements in maternal and child health as well as examples of ways advocates and funders working in this intersect are communicating and thinking about the links between health equity and economic security.

Are you or your grantees working in the intersects between taxes and racial equity or tax credits and health outcomes? Would you like to learn more? Please get in touch and check out our resource pages including video interviews with experts in the field:

Sincerely,

Ami Nagle
Coordinator
EITC Funders Network
ami@eitcfunders.org
NEWS: The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program Gains Permanence
Last week, following the House's passage of the legislation in April, the Senate passed the Taxpayer First Act of 2019, which includes language to permanently authorize the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program and to allow up to $30 million in funding. After 50 years in practice, VITA will be codified, offering providers and the approximately 1.3 million low-wage taxpayers across the country who rely on free tax preparation services the security of knowing this vital resource will continue. Learn more about the importance of VITA in connecting low-income families to tax credits and read about the passage of the bipartisan legislation below:


Tax Credits for Workers and Their Families: A Vital Resource for Low-Wage Taxpayers Gains Permanence (June 18, 2019)
Interview with a Funder
Kelly Wagoner
Director, Get Ahead Colorado
The Piton Foundation


Tell us about The Piton’s Foundation strategy and how Get Ahead Colorado and Tax Help Colorado fit into your work of supporting families and driving social change for low-income communities.

For more than 40 years, The Piton Foundation , which is part of Gary Community Investments , has been investing in the Colorado community with a specific focus on improving the lives of Colorado children and families with low incomes. Our founder, Sam Gary, believes that if children are going to have a chance at success, both generations - parents and children – must be supported. Piton puts this two-generation approach into practice through both its philanthropic investments and programs.

Get Ahead Colorado , formerly the Tax Credits for Working Families Public Information Campaign, was created nearly 30 years ago as a program of The Piton Foundation to help educate working Colorado families about their potential eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The program has since grown into one the largest EITC outreach efforts in the country. In 2007, we recognized an opportunity to build on this effort and connect even more Colorado families to valuable tax credits. Piton partnered with the Colorado Community College System to launch Tax Help Colorado , a program that provides free tax preparation for families with low to moderate incomes across the state. In addition to these two programs, Piton operates Shift Research Lab to make data more accessible to nonprofits, researchers and lawmakers and to inform and monitor community change.

These programs were created as strategies to help us get to our shared organizational vision: that all children in Colorado have the opportunity to grow up healthy and reach their full potential.

What issue or topics would you be interested to talk with your funder-colleagues about?

Although the benefits of the EITC are clear and well researched, I believe there are still misconceptions about who is receiving it and why. As the EITC continues to be part of the national dialogue, I would love to learn from my colleagues how they are working to ensure that the narrative remains focused on those positive benefits. I recently wrote a blog post about EITC myths as a result of hearing some unfair assumptions and mistruths – whether in opinion pieces or sometimes from politicians. For me, it is important to have a clear and honest dialogue about the positive impacts of the EITC on the long-term growth and stability of families. I hope that together we can create some shared language so we can more effectively influence the conversation and continue highlighting the positive impacts of the EITC.

Research News & News from the Field
Voter Registration at Tax Time
Voter registration at tax time can be an effective approach to increasing voter registration numbers and to mobilize underrepresented low-income potential voters, according to new research from the Brookings Institution. Vanessa Williamson, Senior Fellow, conducted the Filer Voter Experiment during the past tax filing season to evaluate the effectiveness of conducting voter registration drives at VITA sites. The experiment, conducted at sites in Cleveland, Ohio, and Dallas, Texas, found that the program doubled the likelihood of unregistered tax filers to vote.

Access the full article: The Filer Voter experiment: How effective is voter registration at tax time? (Brookings, April 2019)
New Tax Credit Proposals Explained
Major federal tax credit proposals have been announced by lawmakers in the recent months to expand existing tax credits or create new tax credits, targeting low- and moderate-income taxpayers who benefitted little from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. A new report from ITEP takes a closer look at five major proposals, explains the differences in their approaches, and provides an estimate of the proposals’ potential impacts using a microsimulation model. 

Access the full report: Understanding five major federal tax credit proposals (ITEP, May 2019)
More Proposed Regulations Threaten Immigrant Families
Reuters reported in May that the Trump Administration is preparing regulations that would make it easier to deport lawful permanent residents and other immigrants who have used public benefits. This new proposal comes on the heels of a related “public charge” proposal that would put applications for admission to the US and applications for green cards at risk for immigrants who use public benefits. This new rule, if and when formally proposed, will be subject to public comment before it can be finalized and implemented and advocates have pledged to opposed the proposal.


For more information about community education and efforts to oppose this proposed rule, visit www.protectingimmigrantfamilies.org.
Evaluating Financial Capability Programs at Tax Time
Prosperity Now has released its findings from a multi-year exploration of the role and impact of VITA in connecting taxpayers to financial capability services. Findings affirm that tax time is a viable opportunity to layer financial capability services that improve the financial wellbeing of low-income taxpayers and recognize that there are barriers that can prevent VITA programs from successfully integrating these services. The report also calls to our attention the lack of a standard of measurement for successful integration.
Upcoming and Recent Sister Affinity Group Events
SAVE THE DATE! EOF Fall Meeting
November 5-6, 2019
New York, NY


Join EOF this fall at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice in New York to explore the transformation of work, workers and social supports with an equity lens. More details coming soon! Registration will open in early summer. For more information, email csiegel@eofnetwork.org
ICYMI: Making a Big Difference: Funder Advocacy and System Change Strategies


Policy research, public will building, message development, grassroots and grasstops engagement. Funders have lots of tools in their toolkit! In this webinar, funder colleagues discussed a range of advocacy and systems change strategies used to ensure more children, families and communities thrive. Speakers discussed strategies and lessons learned from a variety of funder perspectives.
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
Entergy
The Piton Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation
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