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POLICY INSIGHT
BEYOND THE NUMBERS

This Year, EITC Awareness Is Even More Essential

Tomorrow, January 29, is the 15th annual Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day, a time to bring attention to the EITC’s benefits and help more eligible people claim it. That’s all the more important this year, as families struggle with the hardship caused by COVID-19 and the deep recession.

In 2018, the EITC lifted about 5.6 million people above the poverty line, including nearly 3 million children. This tax credit can help families meet daily needs, improve health outcomes for mothers and infants, and boost children’s educational attainment and increase their earnings as adults, research shows.

This year, it’s especially important that tax filers understand their eligibility for the EITC. The President and Congress enacted a “look-back” provision to support economic relief as part of December’s Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act. The look-back provision protects low- and moderate-income families by letting those who earned less in 2020 than in 2019 base their EITC and Child Tax Credit for tax year 2020 on their earnings in either 2020 or 2019, whichever would provide a larger credit.

According to Commonwealth’s analysis, families facing the highest risk of receiving a lower tax refund include households of color with children that expected to earn up to $25,000 in 2020. Without the look-back option, many would be eligible for smaller tax credits or not qualify at all. That could be because they lost a job or earned less money in 2020.

More than ever this tax season, people need to know that they may be eligible for the EITC and can get free tax filing help. For more than 30 years, CBPP has led a national EITC outreach effort to help spread this message. The Get It Back Campaign provides resources for organizations and individuals, including an EITC estimator, flyers in 24 languages, fact sheets, and videos. Learn more and get involved in promoting the EITC.