Chat on Earned Income Tax Credit Outreach
Date: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 Time: 11:00 - 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Major Headings EITC STATISTICS STIMULUS VALUE ADDED TO FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AWARENESS AWARENESS GIVEN CURRENT CONDITIONS COALITION IMPACT MOBILE UNITS MANAGING IN TOUGH TIMES AMMENDED RETURNS
EITC STATISTICS Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: Each year EITC amounts are increased; do you anticipate the total amount to increase to cover all families able to qualify this next year?
Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: Yes, we've seen larger numbers this year at our VITA tax sites.
Andrew Zumwalt: Liz-- the EITC limits are increasing for Married Filing Joint and also for families with three children
STIMULUS Lori Scharmer: Did needing to file to get last year's stimulus check increase the number of taxpayer's accessing EIC?
Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: Do you know how they will be handling the next stimulus payment of $250?
Suzann Knight: Liz - for people employed there will be an increase in their paychecks, for Social Security recipients there will be $250 coming to them. Suzann Knight: This year there is no need to file just to receive this year's economic increase
Andrew Zumwalt: see this website for more info about the $250 payments: http://www.ssa.gov/payment/
Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: I noted that we were offering additional monies for the first stimulus payment if they did not get full payment and this money was not taxed; I am assuming they will not tax the next stimulus payment either.
Suzann Knight: Liz - the next tax stimulus won't be considered as income to be taxed either
VALUE ADDED TO FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS Adrienne Bouleris: I work for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and am publishing materials geared toward bankers to help encourage/facilitate their participation in EITC programs. Are there any suggestions on what kind of material/resources would be useful for bankers in this regard?
Joanne Bankston 2: From Joanne Bankston - I provide Eitc kits to all Ext. Agents, provide newsletter articles, provide information at workshops, and lists of vita sites _KY
Patrick Malone: Thank you Vickie. I'd love a copy of your curriculum if you have it electronically? I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: Adrienne, The bankers use my materials, from Purdue Extension “Where Does the Money Go?” since it is user friendly and ready to go. Adrienne Bouleris: Vickie - Thank you, do you know what kind of information they are looking for as far as whether they want info on how to set up programs, or info on why they should set them up (new customers, tax credit, etc)?
Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: The Where Does Your Money Go? Curriculum covers basic money management - current spending, tracking expenses, extras that add up, spending and savings plans, saving, using split refunds, etc. Adrienne Bouleris: VIKCIE - so is this curriculum geared to bankers or the customers?
Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: It is geared to the customers, but the bankers are so grateful because it is hands on and the topics are ones they choose to provide training on.
Adrienne Bouleris: ok thanks - I was looking for more material that encourages banks/bankers to implement programs to help get people EITCs -- like how they can get new customers through EITC efforts, or how the bank's effort could qualify for CRA credit, something that effect. Does anyone know of materials like this?
Michael S. Gutter: Adrienne - we are doing some economic impact analysis here in Florida. We know that several FIs are interested in the results showing how EITC can help local economy... This may be of interest Suzann Knight: Adrienne - in NH financial institutions are part of the asset building coalitions that sponsor the VITA sites and they provide outreach about accounts.
Linda Law-Saunders 2: Adrienne B- The FDIC sent an email not too long ago, with a letter that could be used to send out to financial institutions, asking for them to partner. Lists advantages of doing so
Adrienne Bouleris: MICHAEL - when do you expect to get this study's results?
Adrienne Bouleris: LINDA - thanks, you wouldn't happen to still have a copy of that letter would you?
Patrick Malone: Many financial institutions see EITC as a great outreach avenue for meeting CRA requirements, so they're pretty active in Washington State.
Michael S. Gutter: Adrienne - we should be done with the report in the next 2-3 weeks.
Celia Hayhoe: I'd like a copy of the letter as well Adrienne.
Linda Law-Saunders 2: Adrienne B- yes I do. How can I get a copy to you?
Adrienne Bouleris: MICHAEL -that is great, will you be publishing the results?
Michael S. Gutter: if you can send to me or a link to me, we could post the letter for everyone to access from the chat
Ann Berry: I would like a copy of the letter as well as Michael's study
Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: We find it a win win situation to have banks and credit unions involved with financial literacy because we provide table displays for them to meet with the tax preparers and begin the process to open accounts and develop a banking relationship.
Patrick Malone: At least some local IRS offices do impact studies as well. AARP provides all our tax preparers, so they too have impact information. Their laptop computers have IRS software, so all you need is internet access for electronic filings even in very remote/rural locations.
Bobbie Gray: Adrienne in 2007 FDIC published a Financial Institution Letter (FIL) encouraging financial institutions to volunteer at VITA sites and included ways they might receive CRA credit. The link is http://www.fdic.gov/news/news/financial/2007/fil07005.html
Brenda Procter: Brookings Institution also has a ton of data. Their link is http://www.brookings.edu/
Michael S. Gutter: Yes in fact the IRS has zip code level data that we were able to request. In our case we were able to get 07 tax return data. This was pretty helpful as it included detailed information about returns
Dean miner: Besides the advantage of free preparation another big plus for EITC recipients using VITA sites is avoiding the refund anticipation loan temptation
AWARENESS Leila wissert: I have not found families who don't know about EITC. Especially if they have a professional do their taxes. Where do I find those that don't know? I have been doing this for many years and don't remember someone not knowing about it. They don't know about W-5 and most don't want to know, they like the big check.
Suzann Knight: Leila - by educating employers they can educate their employees is one way
Brenda Procter: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a wonderful outreach kit that includes information and case studies about people in unusual situations who may be unaware they can qualify. The kit is at cbpp.org.
Joanne Bankston 2: From: Joanne - Due to the current economic conditions, there are many people who may qualify, but are unaware of the program because they did not qualify in the past. Indeed, they may not have had knowledge of the program.
Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: Marketing is a year long process on the EITC/ Andrew Zumwalt: excellent point
Brenda Procter: Paycheck stuffers have paid off in several locations in Missouri. It's usually easy to get low-wage employers to put them in because it makes them look like they care.
Joanne Bankston 2: Joanne - In addition to my work with county agents, I have provided information and resources to churches, nursing home employees, employees of family resource centers in schools, Head Start Families, and other organizations.
Andrew Zumwalt: The media is an amazing help as well. If you can get a county commission to recognize EITC day and issue a proclamation, usually the media will come out for that.
Dean miner: brochures on ways to use refunds to build assets have been useful at VITA tax prep sites
Ann Berry: We have a state coalition promoting the EITC--Tn Alliance for Financial Independence. This year we got the governor to tape a TV segment that has been running on all stations quite a bit. Also promoted EITC Awareness Day
Suzann Knight: The end of January is the annual national IRS EITC Awareness Day - great way to become involved to provide outreach and education
Michael S. Gutter: one comment from a colleague is from an individual’s stand point - somehow getting the EITC information from a Human Resources Department may help - part of any financial plan offerings or something
AWARENESS GIVEN CURRENT CONDITIONS Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: Is anyone seeing a need for directing families who will be qualifying for benefits for the first time?
Brenda Procter: I think newly unemployed families may not be aware of EITC eligibility.
Dean miner: In Utah we are focusing on ways to take VITA opportunities into rural areas using a central processing site to minimize the need for on-site certified volunteers. This helps with EITC outreach.
Brenda Procter: Also, grandparents assume they cannot claim the EITC because they are not claiming their grandchildren as dependents.
Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: We noted also that child care would be a good place to promote EITC.
Michael S. Gutter: Good point Liz, schools, daycare, faith-based organizations are all good places
Brenda Procter: Keep in mind that people who discover they are eligible for the EITC for the first time may be able to file amendments to three years' prior returns to get the credit. My own sister did this because a paid preparer told her she didn't qualify even though her kids were both in college.
Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: In South Dakota, I put out a news article and list the VITA and TCE sites on my Website.
Lori Scharmer: Brenda, would you share your article Tax Credit for People who work
Andrew Zumwalt: http://missourifamilies.org/features/financearticles/taxes.htm
COALITION Patrick Malone: In Washington State, many of our Extension team members participate with statewide and local asset-building coalitions, often largely comprised of CAP agencies, housing authorities and low income advocacy groups. This is a great outreach tool. Do other states have similar organizational structures?
Brenda Procter: The National Community Tax Coalition also has a good piece on starting a coalition. It is at http://www.tax-coalition.org/buildcoal.htm
Suzann Knight: Patrick - in NH this happens as well and not only is it great as an outreach tool but also to educate others about the education that Cooperative Extension has to offer
Suzann Knight: Another group to partner with is the agency who sponsors the Individual Development Account in your state.
Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: CAP Centers would probably be promoting EITC to their clientele.
Brenda Procter: In Missouri, we work with a group called GRO - Grass Roots Organizing, a social justice organization of low-income advocates. They are located in a local rural community and have managed to get nearly everyone in town to our site.
Joanne Bankston 2: Joanne - KY - Related to coalitions of organizations - I recently presented a workshop session developed by one of our county ag4nts. She involved a coalition of groups, and the idea was to help people get a fresh start at the beginning of the year. Groups involved who provided resources and breakout sessions were: Cooperative Extension, credit union, KY Housing Corporation; a financial planner, bank, real-estate professional, the Attorney General's office (consumer protection), and others. Over 40 persons were in attendance. The county agent advertised and targeted persons on the bankruptcy list.
Suzann Knight: In NH we have formed a statewide EITC Alliance where all VITA sites and AARP sites are members. At these meetings we are sharing best practices, training and research. We meet with the asset building coalitions throughout the year to provide outreach about EITC and financial management education (www.nheitc.org). In addition we pilot new ideas - for the past 3 years we have an employer mobile site and this year starting centralized preparation with the taxpayer at a different location.
Brenda Procter: Don't hesitate to contact state legislators. We have had them put our information in their free mailings to constituents.
Andrew Zumwalt: Response to Brenda---> older constituents have been calling me nonstop, but letting them know about Extension has been good for MO, especially in our budgetary climate
Suzann Knight: Our Congressional Delegation was very interested in the EITC outreach and requested quantity of our publications for their NH offices. Brenda Procter: A good approach to get support within Extension is to make yourself as visible as possible with high-level administrators. They eat it up with a spoon because it shows economic impact, which we are under extreme pressure to do.
Linda Law-Saunders: We have formed a coalition (WI$H) with county and state agencies such as WIC, DSS, EOC and they give out VITA coupons beginning in Nov to remind their clients of the service. We also were able to work with the local chain of convenience stores-Stewart's, to get a tear-type flyer in everyone of their 136 stores
IMPACT Brenda Procter: Local municipalities are an easy sell, particularly if you promote the economic impact from bringing in new federal dollars that then multiply through local economies. Research shows that 90% of EITC benefits are spent locally to meet basic needs.
Barbara O’Neill: Who has done that research, Brenda? Do you have a link to a source?
Brenda Procter: It was in the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities outreach kit, but I haven't noticed if it is there this year. John Wancheck (email@example.com can probably direct you to it.
Brenda Procter: Sorry, I should have said the previous comment relates to Barbara's question about the research.
Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: Our onsite survey indicates that the majority of tax filers plan to use their refunds to pay bills.
MOBILE UNITS Richard Fleisher: In West Virginia, we are doing the same as mentioned in FL and Utah. Also, we have access to a mobile tax preparation bus provided by BB&T bank that
Richard Fleisher: BB&T schedules the bus and a driver in states where it has branches. VITA sites provide the tax preparers.
Suzann Knight: In NH we have found it successful to have VITA mobile sites go to the worksite to prepare tax returns and to provide financial management education.
Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: Who sponsors the mobile units -- mostly banks with CRA funding?
Brenda Procter: The NCUA offers grants to local credit unions. We work with a credit union that is applying for next year. The link is at http://www.ncua.gov/Credituniondevelopment/Programs/FinanceGrants.htm
Andrew Zumwalt: Some mobile units are sponsored by Wal-Mart: http://www.myfreetaxes.com/
Ann Berry: Here in Knox County, TN we have a mobile unit to reach the rural areas. United Way received a grant for this outreach effort Ann House & Stephanie Young: In Utah, VITA has partnered with thebeehive.org. There is a bus they have offered in order to do on site tax preparations.
ADVANCED EITC Liz Gorham - SDSU CES: I have yet to do a return for anyone taking their EITC over time; how about others who work at VITA or TCE sites?
Andrew Zumwalt: Liz--we have the same experience at our VITA sites; we mostly see grad students take the AEITC here at MU
Andrew Zumwalt: most want the lump sum
Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: Yes, in northeast IN we have a partnership spearheaded by United Way since their national initiative is financial literacy with a wide variety of partners.
Brenda Procter: I have done a few returns with advanced EITC payments. It is a hard sell, but advanced payments can help people qualify for the take-home pay requirement for a first time homebuyer loan.
Celia Hayhoe: I have had several filers with advanced EITC payments
Suzann Knight: Celia - were the filers with Advance EITC students?
Celia Hayhoe: no I work at the community action VITA site and the filers were all parents or grandparents making under $40,000
FIRST TIME AWARENESS
FINANCIAL EDUCATION AND EITC Patrick Malone: How are Extension agents partnering with other providers around financial education/ financial literacy training that include EITC as a component?
Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: Here in northeast IN we have partnered with several financial institutions and they are presenting a curriculum I have, “Where Does Your Money Go?” to the individuals while they are in the waiting room.
Bobbie Gray: Suzann, when the mobile unit is at the worksite and financial management education is offered, is this during work hours? How long is the financial education workshop?
Brenda Procter: I have done a one-on-one education packet that we use with clients in Missouri as the last step in the process. It is at http://extension.missouri.edu/hes/taxed.
Andrew Zumwalt: Here in Missouri, we leverage our network of Extension Specialists to provide taxpayer assistance as a gateway to financial education. Our education consists of one on one counseling and marketing our workshops at the time of preparation. The trust built up during tax prep helps build credibility with clients. Last year, our volunteers prepared about 3600 returns with 2.95 million in refunds. Already this year, we’ve prepared 1, 548 returns.
Suzann Knight: Bobbie - the mobile unit comes to the worksite during the day and at some worksites the tax preparation is paid time and for others unpaid time. The education is before the tax prep with displays and brochures. During the tax preparation education takes place about adjusting W-4 if there is a large refund or Advance EITC and then after tax prep taking another 10-15 minutes to share additional education.
Linda Law-Saunders: BobbyG- there is a more recent FIL- FIL-97-2007. I received it through a FDIC subscription called Money Smart News (Winter 2009) Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: The Purdue Extension Where Does Your Money Go? Curriculum is available on a CD and can be purchased from the Education Store at www.ces.purdue.edu/new
MANAGING IN TOUGH TIMES Barbara O’Neill: Are there any special EITC efforts this year that are tied to the recession?
Michael S. Gutter: We are reminding people about it as part of our Managing in Tough Times program. We also have it in a new factsheet on General Tax Planning
Ann Berry: We have sessions across the state planned for financial education for our secretaries, paraprofessionals, etc. and will be promoting the EITC along with other financial education and living in the new economy.
Suzann Knight: Barbara - in NH there have been increased outreach efforts and in particular at unemployment offices.
Vickie J. Hadley, CFCS: In our media efforts this year, we stressed the tax site availability to many who may not have qualified before, but do now due to loss of jobs and are seeing many with unemployment statements.
Brenda Procter: We are doing a statewide magazine for managing in tough economic times and we put in a piece about Tax Credits for People Who Work, covering the whole gamut of family tax credits.
Andrew Zumwalt: As a reminder, you may be able to base your earned income in 2008 on your 2007 earned income if you lived in a Midwestern disaster area. See pub 4492-b: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4492b.pdf
Andrew Zumwalt: this could increase EITC
AMMENDED RETURNS Barbara O’Neill: Does VITA help folks with amended returns if they didn't take the EITC and could have?
Andrew Zumwalt: we do at MU
Brenda Procter: Barbara - We have an accountant at one of our active rural sites who offers to do amended returns. I personally would have a hard time doing those.
Dean miner: barb, we have in Utah as well
Celia Hayhoe: I have printed forms out for people and helped them with them and have them mail them in.
Suzann Knight: Barbara - in NH we do amended returns if the volunteer has tested at the advanced level
Andrew Zumwalt: I keep a copy or prior year’s pub 17 to help with prior year tax law; pub 17 is awesome
Linda Law-Saunders: we use the previous year's pub 17 to begin training in the fall before the new one comes out
Andrew Zumwalt: we've done that; it works well
Suzann Knight: using the previous year’s Link N Learn (IRS) materials work well also with training
Dr. Michael Gutter, Assistant Professor and Financial Management State Specialist, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, in the Institute for Food and Agriculture at the University of Florida
Michael Gutter's BS degree is in Family Financial Management and his PhD is in Family Resource Management from The Ohio State University with a specialization in Finance. The common theme that connects Gutter's Research, Teaching, and Outreach is helping households achieve financial security. This has involved research examining how socioeconomic status, financial education, personal psychology, and financial socialization are related to financial behaviors. In the context of this model, Gutter currently explores how financial education is related to financial behaviors and whether or not it is effective as a treatment resulting in improved financial decision making. This line of research has funding from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, the National Endowment for Financial Education, and the NASD Investor Education Foundation.
Panel of Experts for the February 26 Chat Session
Dr. Joanne Bankston, Kentucky State University
Dr. Joanne Bankston is currently a State Specialist in Family Economics and Management for the Cooperative Extension Program at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, KY. She has developed numerous programs and materials on topic related to Family Resource Management, some of which were developed for limited resource families. She provides educational programs on: the Earned Income Tax Credit; Money Smarts; money management, credit, resource management and consumer education to youth groups, 4-H, college students, and to other adult groups and organizations. Dr. Bankston was also a delegate to the 2002 National Summit on Retirement Savings. In 2003, Dr. Bankston produced a segment for a national satellite downlink on Financial Security in Later Life. Most recently, Dr. Bankston has worked with teams of Specialists from around the country to produce an online curriculum package, “Legally Secure Your Financial Future: Organize, Communicate, Prepare,” and to produce a learning lesson by the same name that has been launched by eXtension.
Vickie Hadley, Purdue University Extension
Vicki Hadley provides Serv Safe Food Handler training and certification, teaches educational programs for the Extension Homemaker organization and community agencies and organizations, coordinates the Get Checking coalition in Allen and Whitley Counties, is a member of the Money In Your Pocket Earned Income Tax Credit coalition sponsored by the Mayor’s Office, is a member of the America on the Move coalition in Allen County, and counsels the largest Extension Homemaker organization in the state. She was a writer for the ‘Where Does Your Money Go?’ curriculum.
Dean Miner, Utah State University Extension
Dean Miner has been a county agent with Utah State University Extension for 23 years. His official title is as an agricultural agent but his academic training in agricultural economics from Brigham Young University has facilitated a career long involvement with consumer finance issues. He is the lead developer of a widely-used debt management software called “PowerPay”. He started preparing tax returns as a teenager on his family farm and has been a certified VITA volunteer for four years. He serves on the statewide Utah VITA Coalition and has a particular interest in finding ways to make free tax preparation assistance more available in rural areas.
Brenda Procter, University of Missouri Extension
Brenda Procter has been a state Extension specialist with a focus on poverty, serving on the MU Personal Financial Planning faculty for over 16 years. She has worked extensively with low-income families. She is co-creator of Extension's Building Strong Families program; created and maintains the Poverty At Issue website; and publishes policy briefs on issues related to poverty. She is co-founder of a statewide social justice organization led by low-income women, GRO - Grass Roots Organizing, and she serves on their Board of Directors. Brenda provides technical and logistical support for GRO's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and had one-on-one financial conversations with over 200 rural VITA clients in 2008. Collaborating with GRO, she recently created a predatory lending curriculum, When Creditors Are Predators, and she provides educational support to Consumers Organized NOW, a statewide anti-predatory lending group.
Andrew Zumwalt, University of Missouri Exension
Andrew Zumwalt is an Associate State Specialist with University of Missouri Extension. He helped create and currently manages the Missouri Taxpayer Education Initiative which focuses on providing taxpayer assistance as a gateway to financial education. Andrew operates a VITA site on the MU campus and supports Extension sponsored VITA sites across the state of Missouri that provide.