CalEITC4Me: Leading the way on the EITC

How CalEITC4ME became a national leader in EITC outreach

In just two short years, CalEITC4Me has become the national leader in EITC outreach, using innovative outreach tactics to help people understand and access the credit. In its first year alone, CalEITC4Me helped 400,000 low-income Californians receive $1 billion collectively back in their pockets. In 2018, more than 1.4 million people claimed the credit, totaling nearly $350 million.

CalEITC4Me is an innovative public-private partnership that goes beyond publicizing tax prep sites by providing great online tools and outreach to draw attention to the EITC as a critical resource for California’s working families. California has the highest rate of poverty of any state in the country, and the CalEITC is a critical policy solution to tackle the growing inequality of Californians.

What is the EITC?

The EITC is a cash back tax credit that puts money back into the pockets of low-income working families and individuals. It is designed to encourage and reward work by supplementing the earnings of low wage workers. The amount of an individual’s credit grows with every dollar of earnings until they reach the maximum value. Studies have shown the EITC makes it possible to leave welfare for work, and has been particularly helpful at bringing single mothers in the workforce when the labor market is strong.

How does it help people?

The federal EITC is the nation’s largest and most successful anti-poverty program. In 2015, the EITC lifted about 6.5 million people out of poverty, including about 3.3 million children across the country, and decreased the severity of poverty for another 21.2 million people as well.

Besides its more obvious, direct benefits, the EITC has far-reaching positive consequences as well. It stimulates the local economy where it is used by putting money in the hands of people who most need it and are most likely to spend it. Even more, research shows that children whose families receive a boost in income from the EITC perform better in school and have better health outcomes.

Why should we expand the EITC?

The EITC is the best solution to provide economic security for working families. Where the markets have failed America’s low-income workers, we need to find a way to lift people out of poverty and reward work. Increasing the federal and state EITCs is a practical and proven solution to give all American workers the economic security they deserve.

What are some of CalEITC4Me’s best practices?

CalEITC4Me is a campaign across California to spread awareness of the first-ever state Earned Income Tax Credit to benefit California’s working families, raise use of the federal EITC, increase the availability of free tax preparation services locally, and ensure that the credit winds up in the hands of those who worked hard to earn it.

CalEITC4Me combined accessible online tools and innovative outreach strategies to reach out to those likely to benefit from the credit, clearly explain the credit and the process to get it, and help them receive the cash back in their pockets. The campaign’s success stems largely from its focus on targeting and reaching the right people with the right information, and making it easily accessible to those that need it. Our tactics included:

  • Materials and websites in several languages
  • Digital tax calculators
  • Outreach events across the state
  • Linking people easily to free tax prep sites
  • Targeted digital media to reach out to families likely to benefit
  • Using text, email, and canvassing to encourage families to file
  • Working with partners across the state to reach more families