- Interest local businesses in conducting tax credit outreach by stressing that they have a stake in boosting EIC and CTC participation: Promoting the credits helps stabilize the workforce. When employees have the money they need to get to work, pay for child care and address their families’ day-to-day needs, they are more likely to keep their jobs. Tax credits mean more money in the pockets of community residents. Customers are better able to pay their bills. Community leaders can think of the credits as an economic development tool.
- Enlist a business organization to deliver the message about the importance of the tax credits. Gaining the support of the Chamber of Commerce, merchants’ associations, trade groups or other business organizations will give your campaign credibility with employers and will provide a link to large networks of businesses.
- Persuade local businesses to use tax credit promotional materials. Stores can display posters and flyers. Family restaurants can print tax credit messages on tray liners or placemats. Department stores can play announcements on in-store public address systems. Utility companies can include tax credit information with their monthly bills.
- Show employers effective ways to inform employees about the tax credits. Incorporate tax credit information with employee paychecks, December through March. Display posters and flyers where employees check in at the beginning and end of each day, and in the employee lounge or lunchroom. Publish an article about the tax credits in employee newsletters. One large government employer ran an EIC message as a computer screensaver. Another placed an EIC reminder on the telephone recording that plays when a caller is “on hold.” Another business made EIC information available through its employee “resource line,” an internal hotline employee can call for information about company benefits and other services.
- Train managers to deliver information about the EIC and the CTC to employees they supervise and to new hires. Include tax credit information in employee manuals.
- Direct employees to free tax filing sites. Employers with many lower-wage employees can provide a list of nearby VITA sites or they can arrange to have VITA volunteers visit the worksite to help employees file their tax returns.
- Explore strategies for reaching self-employed entrepreneurs. The Self-Employment Tax Initiative (SETI) is a small business development strategy that helps lower-income, self-employed individuals formalize and grow their businesses, create jobs and access tax-based asset-building opportunities. A project of the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), SETI has provided support to over 40 organizations since 2006 to help them develop programs that provide skilled free or low-cost tax preparation assistance, business development and asset-building services to lower-income self-employed taxpayers. SETI also conducts research and field-building among local partners and promotes sound tax policy to better enable self-employed entrepreneurs to meet their tax obligations and receive the tax benefits they have earned. SETI offers an online Resource Bank (www.cfed.org/programs/seti/resource_bank/) to help organizations interested in providing self-employment tax assistance to lower-income entrepreneurs. For more information, contact SETI’s Lauren Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org, the National Community Tax Coalition’s Cassidy Fallik at email@example.com or visit www.cfed.org/programs/seti.
Tax Credit Outreach IN ACTION
In 2013, Fil-Am Scholarship Foundation & Outreach Services (FASFOS) promoted free tax filing assistance for lower-income workers in Las Vegas, Nevada, by utilizing local business partnerships.
FASFOS partnered with Seafood City, an Asian food market located in a busy shopping mall, to run a VITA site four days per week. FASFOS enlisted Seafood City cashiers to hand out flyers and inform customers about its on-site free tax preparation services. Seafood city employees also helped FASFOS volunteers post three-by-four-foot banners outside the market to attract customers at nearby shopping centers.
Throughout the tax season, FASFOS helped employees from three neighboring restaurants file their taxes at the Seafood City VITA site. FASFOS visited the restaurants once during the tax season to inform employees that they may be eligible to claim the EIC and receive free tax filing assistance. In addition, FASFOS enlisted the help of employees from all three eateries to hand out flyers to customers with information regarding the EIC, eligibility requirements for free tax preparation, and the hours for FASFOS’ VITA site. All three restaurants offered VITA volunteers and clients a 25% discount.
During the 2013 tax season, FASFOS completed 316 returns, generating $331,766 in federal refunds, including $96,919 in EIC refunds.
Contact: Rey Lopez, FASFOS, (702) 645-8883, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tax Credit Outreach IN ACTION
As part of the Self-Employment Tax Initiative, Next Step KC (NSKC) in Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas coordinated 17 VITA sites in 2013, each offering assistance to self-employed workers. NSKC promoted tax-preparation services for self-employed workers through partnerships with the Women’s Employment Network/ Women’s Business Center, the Hispanic Economic Development Council, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and a county workforce development center that hosts one of the VITA sites. The local 2-1-1 hotline also shared information about assistance for self-employed workers.
In addition to free tax preparation, NSKC offered individual sessions on business recordkeeping sessions for interested entrepreneurs and connected workers to bank accounts, credit counseling, and financial workshops.
In 2013, NSKC’s 17 VITA sites and its four MyFreeTaxes locations filed 7,693 tax returns. NSKC submitted 405 returns with self-employment income, 90% of which claimed the EIC.
Contact: Maggie Doedtman, NSKC, (816) 559-4676, Maggie@uwgkc.org