The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a powerful work incentive and poverty-alleviation tool, helping low-income working families to increase their earnings by as much as 40 percent. Research indicates that the EITC has increased the employment and earnings of single women and female heads of households and has been linked to improved health outcomes for mothers and their children.
To receive the EITC, working families must file income taxes. Despite its value to families, an estimated 20,000 households in Baltimore City do not claim the EITC. Further, many of those who do claim the EITC forfeit a significant portion of their refund to pay commercial tax preparers and to purchase high-priced refund anticipation loans.
The Baltimore CASH Campaign – Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope – was launched in 2001 to increase access to the EITC by providing high quality free tax preparation and to increase savings and assets by providing financial education. In 2015, the Baltimore CASH Campaign prepared 9,296 tax returns, refunding more than $17 million in federal and state dollars and saving more than $1.5 million in tax preparation costs. The CASH Campaign helped tax filers to open 103 savings accounts, saving over $131,000, and to open 100 prepaid cards with $118,000 direct deposited. The CASH Campaign also held its 10th annual Money Power Day at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute High School. More than 700 people attended Money Power Day and received information from dozens of organizations, including help obtaining and understanding a credit report, legal advice on taxes, and free tax preparation.