Earned Income Tax Credit : Community Action Partnership (CAP) of Riverside County Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Program

Program/Practice Name: Community Action Partnership (CAP) of Riverside County Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Program

Agency Name: A collaborative effort of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Service (DPSS), CAP of Riverside County, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Contact Information:

Kathrine Latta
Program Manager, EITC/ IDA Programs 
Community Action Partnership of Riverside County
2038 Iowa Avenue, Suite B-102
Riverside, CA 92507
Phone: (951) 955-4900
Fax: (951) 955-6506
kelatta@capriverside.org

Type of Program/Practice: The program provides free tax preparation for low-income wage earners to inform them of EITC and Individual Development Account (IDA) benefits.

Program/Practice Description: The Riverside EITC program is designed to develop an effective EITC outreach campaign to low-income families in Riverside County. The volunteer program provides free tax filing assistance to low-income taxpayers in order to promote work, family, and local economic development.

Background/Program History: The EITC program evolved when IRS statistics revealed there was $307.6 million of potential lost revenue to Riverside County in the 1999 filing season from filed returns that were eligible for the EITC but failed to claim it. At first, only six Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program sites were available to Riverside County, but after forming the partnership with DPSS, the program expanded to each of the 12 Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) offices. In the initial stages of the program, the IRS was able to provide training, computers, and printers to each of the GAIN staff members. After realizing the initial success of the program, DPSS transferred ownership of the program to CAP of Riverside County, whose operations were more clearly aligned with the interests of the program. Today, the program has evolved to being fairly independent of the IRS, as several CAP staff members serve as trainers for new volunteers.

Operations: To inform customers of the services available, the program mails thousands of informational flyers and DPSS displays posters in the lobby of every Riverside welfare-to-work office, along with handouts, additional IRS tax forms, publications, and booklets. The Riverside teams work together to ensure their messages are consistent throughout their programming. CAP staff make presentations at DPSS Job Clubs, train DPSS staff to promote the financial benefits of the EITC and IDA programs, and attend conferences with their partners. The CAP office plans to open additional sites and is working to establish consistent branding throughout Riverside County.

Innovations and Results: The EITC program's key innovation evolved from the initial partnership with the IRS and subsequent partnership with the CAP, leading to required expertise and a greater pool of resources for widespread outreach to low-income families. Through these partnerships, the Riverside County EITC Program is able to provide free income tax preparation services at all 12 welfare-to-work district offices throughout Riverside County, using approximately one staff person per office. This program has resulted in DPSS customers receiving over one half million dollars EITC for the 2002 tax year and over $1.1 million dollars EITC for the 2003 tax year. As program success continued from 2003 through 2005, the program catalyzed the issuance of $3.7 million of tax credits. Under the guidance of CAP, the program continues to bring in about $1 million in tax credits per year.

Tips to Implementation: Agencies interested in implementing a similar program should consider their technological capabilities, as Internet firewalls often can hinder the formation of partnerships. In addition, agencies should consider where the services will be located, ensuring appropriate space for foot traffic. Additionally, treat the program as a skilled volunteering opportunity so volunteers fully appreciate the significance of working with customers' money.

Keys to Success:

  • By forming partnerships, a county can extend program reach beyond TANF and have an impact on helping low-income families achieve self-sufficiency.
  • By partnering with CAP, DPSS was able to combine the EITC program with existing IDA programs to better help clients see the end results of their financial planning.
  • By leveraging skilled volunteers, the program reaches a broad range of people without incurring significant costs. Also, the program is able to use returning volunteers to train new ones.

The following tools are associated with Community Action Partnership (CAP) of Riverside County Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Program.  Please send us an email at upitoolkit@icfi.com for more information about these tools.

Overview of Riverside County DPSS EITC Outreach Campaign

Outlines DPSS marketing approach.

CAP EITC Fact Sheet

Summary of program results over three years.

CAP EITC Program Volunteer Sign-up

Volunteer recruitment flyer.

CAP EITC Flyer

EITC advocacy brochure compares the cost of paid tax preparation to that of using free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site preparation.

CAP EITC Training Curriculum

Detailed training program overview, including all topics covered in the certification training.

CAP IDA Fact Sheet

Brief overview of IDA program successes.

CAP IDA Flyer

Marketing brochure used to recruit partners and participants.