Report: Philadelphians Missing Out on $100m in Tax Credits

Thousands of Philadelphia residents who live at or below the poverty level need help accessing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and state aid that they are eligible for, according to a city initiative.

Michael Banks, executive director of The Promise, said Philadelphia residents are missing out on at least $100 million in tax credits.

“The Promise took a $23 million bite out of that figure,” Banks said. “There is still work to be done, but we’re proud to have reduced the number of dollars that traditionally go unclaimed by nearly 25% of those eligible.

“In this first year, The Promise worked hard to deepen relationships and collaboration across Philadelphia community organizations, helping to tap directly into underserved communities,” Banks said. “Along with our partners, we helped families navigate complex systems to access the benefits they deserve. In addition to stabilizing income and employment for the individuals served, we are planting the seeds to which will ultimately help Philadelphia have a stronger workforce, safer communities, and fewer people in crisis.”

The Promise, an initiative developed by the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, seeks to help residents by increasing access to public benefits and tax credits while also connecting residents to emergency assistance benefits and services. Its goal is to lift 100,000 Philadelphians out of poverty.

The Promise released its one-year report, detailing what it’s been able to accomplish after its $5.9 million investment into four coalitions composed of 30 community organizations, also known as its Family Stability Challenge.

The coalitions include: The Collaborative to Advance Stability, the Latino Economic Development Collective, No One Left Behind and the South Broad Partnership.

According to the report:

  • More than 53,000 Philadelphia households accessed resources and assistance, accounting for 13.5% of families living in poverty in the city.
  • Families accessed over $51.2 million in benefits and tax credits, including an estimated value of $23.2 million in tax credits; $2.5 million in free tax preparation; and $26.6 million in cash equivalent benefits.
  • More than 16,000 Philadelphia households accessed emergency assistance benefits and services, shielding them from further crisis.
  • 13,000 people received free assistance filing their taxes, which included supporting 4,107 families in getting access to the expanded Child Tax Credit, yielding $12 million in tax credits back to Philadelphia families.

“The Promise showcases the strength of collaboration and what can be achieved when we work together,” said Bill Golderer, president/CEO of the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. “In just one year, The Promise and its partners have helped tens of thousands of families in Philadelphia access the benefits and credits they are owed, putting money back into their pockets and into their homes.”

Specifically, The Promise helped connect people to benefits that they may have not known they were eligible for, such as the earned income tax credit (EIC) and the child tax credit (CTC).

“More than 90% of Philadelphia families with children are eligible to receive the expanded Child Tax Credit — they just need to claim it,” said Alicia Atkinson, Managing Director, Financial Empowerment at United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. “Our partners were at the ready to ensure everyone who is eligible to claim this expanded credit got access to high quality free tax services. By ensuring access to this credit alone, we can move 75,000 people in Philadelphia out of income-based poverty. That includes more than 46,000 children.”

The Promise, a public-private partnership, is funded in part by the city of Philadelphia, United Way, and corporate entities such as Comcast NBCUniversal and Wells Fargo.

“Through The Promise, we are committed to equipping families with the resources, tools, and opportunities needed to remove barriers to economic mobility,” said Dalila Wilson-Scott, board chair of The Promise and executive vice president and chief diversity officer of Comcast Corporation and president of the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation. “We are proud to invest in The Promise and support efforts to build cross-sector collaboration — all to create a more equitable Philadelphia.”

From The Philadelphia Tribune