To help families, expand tax credits

What could an extra $2,300 mean to families in our community?

It could mean that a family can afford a security deposit on an apartment to escape life on the streets.

It could mean that a single mom working to put food on the table can finish her degree.

It could mean that a working parent can repair the family car and stay employed.

Or, that a father can help his struggling child with tutoring or counseling.

That amount, $2,300 - the average Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in the Philadelphia region last year - could mean a better life.

That chance is within reach for thousands of working families in our area through the EITC, a refundable credit that can return as much as $6,318 to a qualifying family.

It's more than a one-time budget boost. As a powerful antipoverty tool, the EITC promotes work - since only working taxpayers are eligible - and decreases poverty by allowing workers to keep more of what they earn.

In fact, in 2016, $31.4 million in tax refunds, $12.6 million of which were EITC credits, were refunded to 10,189 individuals and families in our region through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program - a free tax preparation service supported by our United Way. Even more was returned through other programs.

And the benefits are long-term. Research shows better academic achievement, higher college enrollment rates, and better earning potential for children whose families receive the EITC.

Yet, one in five eligible taxpayers doesn't claim the EITC, leaving millions on the table each year.

Together, we can make a difference.

Join us in driving awareness of the EITC and help us advocate for expanding eligibility to more childless workers. Our voices are influential tools - use yours to ask federally elected officials to expand EITC to enable more working Americans to keep more of what they earn.

Stand with us as we work to end intergenerational poverty. We know that stable families are the cornerstone of a community that thrives, and when we help parents succeed, children do, too. Through strong partnerships and innovative solutions, we can ensure that more families find a path to financial stability and a brighter future for generations to come.

Together, we change lives and strengthen communities - one child, one adult and one family at a time. Learn more at

Jim Cawley is president and CEO of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

Mary Arthur is president and CEO of the Campaign for Working Families Inc.

Allan Domb is a Philadelphia councilman-at-large.