EITC Funders Network Quarterly eNewsletter
Issue 45 | December 2019
A Note from the Coordinator
Dear EITC Funders Network members,

Last month (November) was Native American Heritage month. As Krystal Langholz, COO at First Nations Oweesta, notes in Prosperity Now’s guest blog post, Improving Health and Wealth for Native American Communities, there was much to celebrate, but also much history for all of us to acknowledge and act on -- every day, not just one month of the year.

Langholz writes: " Oweesta has watched as Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities have seized the economic self-determination of their communities in diverse and creative ways. However, as we consider both the physical health and financial well-being of these communities, it is clear that the long-term effects of hundreds of years of government-sponsored genocide on these communities continue to be felt."

From the lens of funders who support EITC access and outreach, it’s important to note that people of color - including Native Americans - benefit disproportionally from tax credits. Twenty-three percent of Native American women , for instance, are eligible for the EITC as compared to 9 percent of white women. This disparity, due in part to the overrepresentation of people of color in lower-paid occupations and in part-time or part-year work, reflects a history of discrimination and ongoing structural barriers.

At the same time, the IRS has identified American Indian communities as communities at risk for underutilizing tax credits. Advocates recognize that, among other factors, historical and ongoing interactions with the federal government can impact tribal communities’ EITC receipt.

Oweesta helps create opportunities for Native people to establish wealth and economic security by addressing barriers, providing lending opportunities, and publishing training materials. Included within Oweesta's Building Native Communities curriculum is a Guide to Claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit as well as a Tribal Leader’s Guide to Launching an Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign. Oweesta recently published an evaluation of its well-established, culturally relevant financial capability curriculum, Building Native Communities . The program, designed to help build financial capability in diverse Native communities, was found to have profound impacts on participants and their communities.

As Langholz writes , "As we celebrate Native American Heritage month...let us celebrate the persistence, determination and strength of tribal members that are creating healthier communities on their own terms. Let’s also honor the Native organizations that have offered a platform for families and communities to create healthy and growing economies, produce personal assets and ground all these financial practices in deep cultural values that honor the knowledge that Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities have always been sustainably minded and capable resource managers, just as their ancestors have been since time immemorial."

Ami Nagle
EITC Funders Network
Interview with the National Women's Law Center:
Tax Justice is Gender Justice
Amy Matsui
Director of Income Security and Senior Counsel

Melissa Boteach
Vice President of Income Security and Child Care/Early Learning

Tell us about  T ax Justice is Gender Justice , the new series of reports on achieving gender and racial equity by harnessing the power of the U.S. Tax Code. How does this work fit into the National Women’s Law Center’s mission?

Taxes play a fundamental and underappreciated role in women’s economic security. The tax code funds our collective priorities and helps set the rules that shape our economy. It rewards and incentivizes certain behaviors and family structures, and penalizes others. It plays a pivotal role in widening or lessening inequality and in enabling families to build wealth.

None of these functions is race- or gender-neutral.

These reports – created in partnership with the Groundwork Collaborative, the Roosevelt Institute, and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality – are an effort to bring to light the ways in which the tax code has the power to both further and to mitigate existing inequities.

Research News & News from the Field
A Business Case for EITC Expansions
The Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED), a nonprofit, nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization, has released the first in a series of policy briefs focused on growing and strengthening the American workforce. The brief highlights CED’s long support of the EITC as a tool for making work pay and urges the business community and policymakers to expand and strengthen the EITC to increase labor force attachment.

New EITC Expansion Case Studies: Minnesota, New Mexico and Oregon
Looking for examples of effective strategies and lessons learned from recent state EITC expansion campaigns? Check out Tax Credits for Workers and Their Families’ (TCWF) newest set of case studies spotlighting successful campaigns to expand state EITCs in Minnesota , New Mexico , and Oregon.  

Disproportionate Auditing and the IRS Budget Cuts
Last Spring, Propublica reported that the IRS audits low-income taxpayers at approximately the same rate as it audits the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers. A follow-up article notes that the agency cites inadequate funding as the barrier to enacting changes. According to the article, steady cuts have left the IRS’ current enforcement budget 25 percent lower than its 2010 level.

Federal Courts Block “Public Charge” Regulation, but Chilling Effect Continues
In October, federal courts blocked the Trump Administration’s “public charge” regulation from taking effect. The injunction keeps current rules for applicants seeking permanent residency or a non-immigrant visa in effect while litigation continues. The chilling effect of the rule's threat, however, is a continuing concern, and fear of the repercussions of applying for public benefits threatens the health and safety of immigrant families.

Financial Well-Being, State By State
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released a state-by-state look at the financial well-being of adults in the U.S.. The report defines “financial well-being” through its Financial Well-Being Scale, which is based on an individual’s’ own sense of “(1) control over day-to-day and month-to-month finances; (2) capacity to absorb a financial shock; (3) being on track to meet financial goals; and (4) ability to make financial choices to enjoy life.” 

Access the full report: CFPB: Financial Well-Being by State .
Upcoming Philanthropic Serving Organizations and Field Partner Events
V for Voters and VITA: A How-To on Voter Registration at Tax Time
Dec 5th, 2019 at 3PM

Tick tock! The tax filing season is right around the corner! Along with your normal forms and schedules, there’s another brand-new initiative to help your community get registered to vote in next year’s election. 

Last year, Brookings Institute launched a pilot to get voters registered in both Cleveland and Dallas; you can find out more through their study here. As a part of this initiative, the Taxpayer Opportunity Network is having a webinar to showcase the program, answer any questions you may have and lay out the process of getting involved in next year’s program. This short, easy-to-implement program is another unique way that VITA programs can continue to provide services to better assist your community. Please join us during this interactive conversation to ensure you have the most up-to-date knowledge on this exciting program. You won’t want to miss out on this opportunity to combine civic duty and tax preparation! 
EOF's 17th Annual Budget and Tax Briefing
March 5-6, 2020 | Washington, DC

The federal budget is one of the most important policy instruments of our government. It is a moral document that reflects our values and priorities through decisions on how to tax residents and businesses and spend these collective resources. These decisions impact what families have to spend on basic needs and invest in their future, define the size of the federal government and its role in the national economy, and affect the lives of all Americans.

EOF (formerly known as GIST) hosts an annual Budget and Tax Briefing to provide funders and philanthropic advisors with a unique opportunity to learn about and discuss pressing political developments, federal and state budget and tax issues, and emerging advocacy and communications strategies for protecting programs and policies that support struggling families, workers and communities.
Courage, Vision, Action:
GCIR National Convening
March 11-13, 2020 | Atlanta, GA

GCIR’s biennial national convening is the foremost gathering in philanthropy on immigrant and refugee issues. The convening brings together the sector’s leading voices and advocates with the aim of giving funders new tools and renewed enthusiasm to guide their immigrant- and refugee-related grantmaking.

The 2020 Convening will take place against the backdrop of a dramatic shift in our nation’s vision of immigration and democracy, and during the lead-up to one of the most consequential elections in our lifetimes. The theme, Courage, Vision, Action, reflects the grave imperatives facing philanthropy amid deep divisions over what we value and who we are as a nation. The programming will inspire us all to imagine our shared future and push beyond business as usual to take action in this defining moment.

Come and meet peers from around the country, hear about critical work happening in the South, and learn how philanthropy can advance a bold new vision for America.
ICYMI: Past Network and Partner Events
The Tax Code, Equity, and Access to Affordable Housing:
A Conversation for Funders
October 24th, 2019

How do tax policy, housing affordability, and equity intersect? In what ways did the 2017 tax law move us backward in this space and how can we strengthen those provisions that are progressive and inclusive? What is the role of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program and what do we know about Renters’ Tax Credit proposals.

Framed for funders, this webinar provided an overview of the ways the federal tax code intersects with equity in the realm of housing access, and take a closer look at the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), the largest federal housing program in the US that encourages the creation and preservation of affordable rental housing, as well as current proposals for a Federal Renters’ Credit to help low-income renters offset high housing costs.
Big Impact for Little Kids: the Health & Wealth Connection
October 24th, 2019

Children have many needs to reach their full potential. Two important ingredients, research shows, are children’s overall health and financial well-being. We know the problems of health and wealth are connected, but all too often the solutions are disconnected. Why and what can be done? How can grantmakers be pioneers to influence these distinct, yet interrelated fields to work together to deepen and broaden the impacts for children and their futures?

On October 24th, AFN released Pioneering Health and Wealth Integration for Children, the first Spotlight in a series that includes research and strategies exploring the health-wealth connection for particular life stages. Hear why there is a critical need for more investments at the intersections of health and wealth for children.
New and Noteworthy: EITC Policy Development Fund awards planning grants to Idaho, Florida and Pennsylvania!
Policy, advocacy and grassroots organizations in Florida, Idaho and Pennsylvania have been awarded $25,000 planning grants to explore the opportunity for deeper alignment and develop a proposal to build capacity to undertake EITC policy development work in their state. In each state, proposals must be jointly developed by a policy group and community engagement partner(s). Awardees have six months to develop and submit a Framework for Action and be considered for EITC Policy Development Fund contracts of $125,000 per year for an initial two-year period. Awardees may be eligible to apply for a third year of support at the end of their two-year contracts if funds are available.

Together with the Economic Opportunity Funders (formerly known as GIST), the EITC Funders Network administers and oversees the EITC Rapid Response, Campaign and Policy Development Funds (collectively known as the EITC Pooled Fund). To date, $2,658,500 has been awarded to 29 state networks: $1,228,500 in rapid response funds, $380,000 in campaign funds and $1,050,000 in policy development funds. Want to know more? Click here to learn more about the EITC Pooled Fund.
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 Piton Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation