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Addressing financial vulnerability with municipalities this tax season.
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Using tax season to strengthen financial security

Findings from the 2016 Menino Survey of Mayors released in January by the Boston University Initiatives on Cities with support from Citi, confirm that the most pressing economic concern for mayors from both sides of the aisle is poverty. Of the 102 mayors surveyed, nearly half (44 percent) reported that poverty was their #1 economic concern; and their focus on socioeconomic issues as a top policy priority doubled from the 2014 survey.

For municipalities, tax time provides an opportunity for enabling vulnerable households to improve their financial stability through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC, a refundable tax credit for low- and moderate-income workers, returns an average refund of $2500 that residents can use to to build savings, pay down debt or make important household purchases; yet roughly one in five eligible households do not take advantage of it. And for every $1 returned to an EITC recipient, $1.50 is generated in the local economy, making it all the more important to expand uptake and ensure that every eligible filer gets the most out of their refund.

To advance that goal, Citi Community Development (CCD) has been deepening its collaboration with municipalities across the country to expand access to free tax preparation services, ensuring that more eligible households can benefit from the EITC. 

Op/Ed: Too many in Greater L.A. miss out on benefits of tax season

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Citi's Bob Annibale write in the LA Daily News about Free Tax Prep Los Angeles, a new public outreach and awareness campaign designed to boost financial security across the City and County of Los Angeles by expanding access to free tax preparation services and the EITC. (link)

Spotlight on EITC across the nation

Los Angeles, CA

CCD is collaborating with the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to launch Free Tax Prep Los Angeles, a large-scale public awareness and education campaign on available free tax services and to encourage those eligible to file for EITC. 

New York City

Now in our third year of collaboration with the City of New York as the only corporate funder of its EITC campaign, CCD is also supporting innovations developed by the Designing for Financial Empowerment initiative to make free tax prep more effective and accessible. In the Citi Blog, NYC Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas and Citi's Eileen Auld highlight some of these advances, such as a text messaging-based system for appointment time updates at nine high-traffic locations, which are informing the work of other municipalities around the country. 

San Fernando, CA

In collaboration with California State Senator Bob Hertzberg, Citi Community Development is supporting the California State University, Northridge (CSUN) 2017 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Clinic, offering free assistance with state and federal tax preparation to low-income individuals and families in the City of San Fernando, located within Los Angeles County. Read more from CSUN, the press release with Senator Hertzberg, and recent coverage.

Miami-Dade County, FL

In order to expand access to free tax preparation services and the EITC for more Miami-Dade County households, Citi Community Development has provided $250,000 in support to the Miami-Dade VITA Coalition, a collection of organizations working to provide free tax preparation and financial empowerment services in collaboration with Miami-Dade County. Brent McLaughlin, Executive Director of Branches, which leads the Coalition, hopes to grow the VITA program 50 percent over the next two years. Read more in the South Florida Times.

The Citi Community Investing & Development newsletter provides occasional updates including news, research, results and insights from our colleagues and partners around the country.

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