ATLANTA—The 16th annual Internal Revenue Service-sponsored EITC Awareness Day on Jan. 28 provides an opportunity to build awareness and increase the use of Earned Income Tax Credits. A new report by the Georgia Health Policy Center at Georgia State University provides action steps that public agencies and nonprofits working with low-income individuals can use to improve their adoption.
Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) are an underused tax policy that has been identified as an effective way to help build economic stability for low-income earners — an important driver of health outcomes. Despite their proven benefits, more than one in five eligible individuals nationally and in Georgia do not claim federal EITCs, meaning more than 6.25 million eligible U.S. households leave about $2,411 of unclaimed credit on the table each year, roughly $15 billion nationally.
As the 2022 tax season starts and child tax credits run out, this is a key time for nonprofits, government agencies and tax preparation services to work together to promote their adoption.
“Economic stability is an important driver of health and equity, particularly for women and children,” said Leigh Alderman, a senior research associate at the Georgia Health Policy Center and lead for Health in All Policies. “Given lingering pandemic-related economic challenges, it is particularly important this year for eligible filers to take advantage of this tax credit. By promoting policies that bring together public health and economics, we can promote opportunities for all to achieve health and thrive economically.”
The Georgia Health Policy Center facilitated the Earned Income Tax Credit Policy Implementation Lab from December 2020 through May 2021 to better understand what factors led to successful EITC implementation in 11 “innovator states” that had enacted state-level EITCs, with state coalitions and subject matter experts participating. The actionable insights that emerged are helpful to those involved in expanding EITC efforts and those working on other systemic strategies to advance health and well-being.
The report offers action steps on how to:
- Think of EITCs as a cross-sector solution to tackle poverty and improve health and well-being.
- Identify intersections with potential collaborators within and across sectors. Public health, community development and government agencies all have overlapping interest in promoting EITCs.
- Develop communication strategies to build common understanding, actions and trust. Some strategies are referenced in the report.
The Earned Income Tax Credit is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its Health Impact in Five Years portfolio as a cost-effective, nonclinical, communitywide policy intervention shown to achieve positive health impacts within five years.
Senior Advisor to the Director
Georgia Health Policy Center
Alderman focuses on partnering with community stakeholders to address the determinants of health and equity, applying her expertise in strategic planning, health policy, systems thinking, and meeting design and facilitation.
She leads the center’s Health in All Policies and Public Health Law Research teams and provides leadership support to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-sponsored Bridging for Health: Improving Community Health Through Innovations in Financing, the Legislative Health Policy Certificate Program and a statewide strategic planning initiative to address the opioid crisis. She also leads the center’s work on Georgia Homes for Healthy Futures, funded by The Kresge Foundation, and collaborates with the Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement on special initiatives.
Alderman seeks partners from all sectors who are interested in collaborating and innovating with communities to achieve sustainable and equitable thriving communities.