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Earned Income Tax Assistance Program

Pierce County Library System

Innovation Leader: Neel Parikh, Executive Director, nparikh@piercecountylibrary.org

Problem Statement

The Earned Income Tax Credit is under claimed. About 20% of eligible taxpayers do not claim it because the forms seem confusing and complicated. Commercial tax preparers charge fees for each form and schedule for a return, at least $205 per return year. With over 11% unemployment in Pierce County, the Pierce County Asset Building Coalition was interested in helping eligible individuals receive this tax credit.

Innovation

Pierce County Library System entered into a partnership with the Pierce County Asset Building Coalition to help residents in Pierce County save money and identify tax credits qualifying for refunds by filing their own income tax forms through the I-CAN E-File program. Pierce County Asset Building Coalition received grant funding to help get the word out about the program, train volunteers to assist those who might need help, and offer workshops to those wanting to participate in the program. Pierce County Library supported the program by providing a link to the I-Can E-File website from the Library tax assistance page, public computers and help for those wanting to file returns, displaying posters and flyers and hosting workshops.

Progress

299 people made use of the computers at Pierce County Library System branches to file tax returns with the I-Can E-file program, with refunds totaling $518,603 and Earned Income Tax Credit of $211,082. Barbara Gorzininski, Program Manager of the Pierce County Asset Building Coalition, also reported that an additional 2079 returns were filed at AARP Tax-Aide and VITA sites at Puyallup, Parkland/Spanaway, Lakewood and Sumner branch libraries for refunds totaling $2,180,963 and Earned Income Tax Credit of $498,465.

By supporting Tax-Aide, VITA, and I-CAN E-File, Pierce County Library System saved their patrons this out-of-pocket cost, an estimated total of $487,490 for the 2378 returns that were filed.