As part of their Clinton School Practicum project, a team of students is working with Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (AACF) to raise awareness about Arkansas’s Earned Income Tax Credit, which can dramatically affect the quality of life of low- to middle-wage workers.
AACF and the Clinton School students are researching the reasons why most eligible low-income families are not claiming the tax credit. As part of this effort, AACF issued a press release last week to help draw attention to the benefits of the credit. The release follows:
AACF and Clinton School Partner to Raise Awareness about EITC
Arkansas workers leave millions of dollars unclaimed each year by not filing for the Earned Income Tax Credit
LITTLE ROCK – Every year, Arkansas workers miss out on millions of dollars by failing to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Friday, January 25, 2013, is national EITC Awareness Day. Each year advocates and tax professionals come together in late January to highlight the importance of this federal credit. The EITC, eligible only to low- to middle-wage workers, has a dramatic impact on poverty and quality of life in America. Former President Ronald Reagan once called the EITC, “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.” Far too many Arkansans, though, let that credit go unclaimed.
This year, Arkansas Advocates for Children & Families (AACF) partnered with the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in a joint project to better understand why the EITC goes unclaimed at such a high rate and to provide recommendations for how to improve those numbers.
“More than 25 percent of Arkansans claimed the EITC in 2011, but we believe up to 38 percent of tax filers are eligible,” said Brett Kincaid, outreach director at AACF and supervisor of the research project. “That means up to $200 million goes unclaimed by Arkansas workers. This is money they’ve earned but do not bring home.”
EITC Awareness Day provides a platform for public awareness each year. Every filer should check to see if they are eligible for the credit. A family of four earning up to $50,000 may be eligible for the EITC. It’s a simple check, and tax filers need to be vigilant in making sure their tax preparer checks to see if they qualify. With almost 20 percent of all Arkansans – and 26 percent of our children – living in poverty, our state needs to do a better job of making sure our hard-working families claim the credit they have earned.
“This project came together after we sat down and said, ‘What can we do to impact poverty in Arkansas?’” said Skip Rutherford, Dean of the Clinton School. “What really gets me excited about this is the simplicity of it. If we can just get people to understand that they have earned this credit and need to claim it, lives will be dramatically improved very quickly.”
First-year Clinton School students John Delurey, Kayla Brooks, Nate Kennedy and Nicole Maddox have begun field research in Garland, Phillips and Pulaski counties. These three counties reflect a broad range of claim rates, demographic factors and a contrast between urban and rural populations. The students will complete their research and release their findings later this spring. As part of their analysis the students will recommend steps that can be taken at the local and state level to encourage tax filers to claim the tax credits they have earned.