FINAL Assets Alliance LOGO

An Update from the N.C. Assets Alliance
March 2010
Greetings, Assets Advocate.

March was a busy month for the NC Assets Alliance. We partnered with the NC Housing Coalition to host our two final forums in Asheville and Charlotte. The Outreach Committee is working on a a wrap-up document summarizing what we learned from the forums. Once it is completed, we will share with the membership and the community. Thank you to everyone who helped organize these events, thank you to the participants, and thank you to our funders: Bank of America, CFED, and the Charles Stuart Mott Foundation.

This month, we focused our newsletter on EITC and VITA. The official tax season is almost over, but as you all know, the work continues year-round to advocate for increasing the state and federal EITC and funding for VITA. Also, remember that April is financial literacy month...a perfect time to think about personal finance when many low income families see a significant boost to their income in the form of tax refunds.

Please join us at our next quarterly meeting:
Thursday, May 6 10am-1pm: The meeting will be held at the North Carolina Indian Economic Development Initiative: 5800 Farringdon Place Raleigh, NC 27609. Please RSVP to Emila Sutton. Lunch will be served.

Thank you for your continued support of the NC Assets Alliance!

North Carolina Assets Alliance

In This Issue
Federal Asset Policy
Asset Building in Practice
Research and Publications
Take Action
Federal Asset Policy

Increase VITA Funding in North Carolina

It's Time to Scale Up!

The Community Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides a safe and cost effective alternative to self preparation, paid tax preparers and tax preparation software. In addition, volunteer tax preparation programs compliment IRS Taxpayer Services by encouraging voluntary compliance and offering an accessible alternative to other IRS service channels.
The National Community Tax Coalition is working in collaboration with National Disability Institute, the Real Economic Impact Tour, and United Way Worldwide to organize VITA Programs and advocate for this important funding increase.

We ask Congress to:
Appropriate $35 million in FY2011 for the VITA Grant Program
Allocate $5 million of this amount toward the creation of a National Center to Promote Quality & Evaluation of VITA, which will provide specialized technical assistance to programs 

Take Action:
Sign Your State Petition

Join VITA programs in your state as we advocate for more funding for the VITA Grant Program. This letter provided by the National Community tax Coalition, requesting much needed funding for the VITA Grant Program, will be sent to the North Carolina Congressional Delegation. Here is part of the letter:

"With 363 VITA sites in North Carolina during the 2009 filing season, many of our families count on the services of VITA. Community VITA programs offer free tax help and financial services to low- and moderate- income workers including persons with disabilities, the elderly, Native Americans, rural populations, and those with limited English-language skills. During the 2009 filing season, VITA programs across the country filed 1.2 million federal tax returns and prepared over 400,000 EITC returns, which helped workers claim $1.6 billion worth of federal tax refunds and saved families an estimated $220 million in tax return preparation costs."

Please ensure that the appropriate person at your organization or in your VITA Coalition signs-on to the letter. Also, if you have relevant statewide data that will enhance the letter, please email it to Lucy Mullany. You will receive a final version of the petition.

For more information, and to view and submit the letter to North Carolina delegates, please visit the National Community Tax Coalition website:
Asset Building in Practice
Institute for Fiscal Progress
Promoting Healthy Financial Behavior
Fiscal Progress Logo

Fiscal Progress is where individuals, families, students and community groups connect to strengthen financial awareness. The organization offers a variety of programs to meet the changing needs of our community and beyond. Institute for Fiscal Progress offers a variety of classes, workshops and seminars in addition to individual counseling. Whether you are a prospective first-time homebuyer or in the middle of a career change, our public education outreach can benefit you.

Institute for Fiscal Progress, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Founded in 1998 as The Community Learning Consortium, Inc., the organization has evolved over the years and remains dedicated to its original mission of educating consumers. In 2004, the company moved its operations to Raleigh, NC to take advantage of a surrounding community that is both affordable and dedicated to education.

  • Promote financial awareness to the public
  • Equip consumers with financial education, guidance and a network of support
  • Foster the achievement of client goals by promoting healthy financial behavior
Visit their website for more information:

Fiscal Progress is an official IRS Free File site.

Qualifying individuals and families can receive Federal and State Income Tax assistance at Fiscal Progress at no cost. This service is free, convenient, and confidential.

Their trained community volunteers can help you with special credits, such as Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly for which you may qualify. In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, their site also offers free electronic filing (e-filing). Individuals taking advantage of the e-file program will receive their refunds in half the time compared to returns filed on paper - even faster if you have your refund deposited directly into your bank account.

For further information about the Fiscal Progress tax assistance program or to make an appointment, please call (919) 719-1750 or contact them at:

Fiscal Progress
5540 Centerview Drive, Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27606

If you have an Asset Building Program, please let us know!
Email Emila Sutton with details.
Research and Publications
Although the Research Committee already provided some resources on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in a previous newsletter, we thought it would be useful to provide a more detailed overview of this critical work support program. For more information about the EITC for North Carolina households, go to
What is the EITC?
The Earned Income Tax Credit is a both a federal and now a N.C. tax credit. Designed to "make work pay", the EITC provides low- and moderate-income working families earning less than $48,279 in 2009 a credit on their earned income. The credit can put up to $5,940 in federal and N.C. EITC into the pockets of those who qualify. Each year, the credit lifts an estimated 5 million people out of poverty, including 2.5 million children.
How did the EITC originate?
First enacted in 1975 under President Gerald Ford, the EITC expanded under presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Sr., and Bill Clinton-and has had longstanding bipartisan support. EITC helps offset Social Security taxes and provides an incentive for work. It is the federal government's largest benefits program for working families.
In 2007, North Carolina became the twenty-second state to adopt a state Earned Income Tax Credit. The NC EITC will is 5 percent of the federal EITC with the same eligibility requirements.
How many people in North Carolina currently file for the EITC?
In tax year 2005, 770,644 working families, 21 percent of all NC taxpayers, filed for the credit and received a total of more than $1.5 billion, an average of $1,950 per family.
How many people in North Carolina who are eligible for the EITC don't file for it?
Nationally, the IRS estimates that only 75 percent to 85 percent of those eligible for the credit file for it. Using these 75 and 85 percent figures as a guideline, we estimate that in North Carolina between 135,000 and 256,000 eligible tax filers fail to claim the credit each year, leaving between $132 million and $250 million dollars unclaimed each year.
What do people typically do with the EITC once they receive it?
They do the same things most of us do with our tax refunds: buy things they need, pay down debt, and put some away. The EITC can be a vital tool in helping people save for education and training, finance transportation to work, start a small business, or save for a home.
Where can eligible people go to get free help in preparing their income tax returns?
Free tax preparation services are provided through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, program. Volunteers that work at community organizations are trained and certified by the IRS.
For a listing of who provides such services in your community, call the Connectinc free tax helpline at 1-888-927-3230, your local United Way 2-1-1 helpline, or visit the EITC Carolinas Web site at You can also call the IRS helpline at 1-800-929-1040. 
Is there anything we can do to help those receiving the credit take better advantage of this lump sum check?
Yes. Encourage them to be smart shoppers when looking for help in preparing their tax returns. Fees for tax preparation vary widely, and many charge excessive rates for "refund anticipation loans," thereby reducing the value of the credit to hard-working families. Free or low-cost sites represent an important alternative to these services.
How can employers help support their employees' access to the EITC?
The most important thing is to make sure employees know about it. Employers can use a variety of strategies such as: Including EITC information with W-2 forms; Including information in employee newsletters and posting information in employee common areas such as lunchrooms; and working with local VITA programs to host free tax prep services on-site and hosting financial education "lunch and learn" programs. Employers can also encourage their workers to use direct deposit of paychecks so that they become "banked" and will have an account for speedier direct deposit of tax refunds.
How do I volunteer?
Contact your local free tax preparation site and ask. Volunteer opportunities are available for people interested in greeting people as they walk in the door, helping prepare returns, babysitting children while others are preparing returns, or providing goods and services for free income tax preparation sites.
For more NC data:

Brookings Institution Research and Data by State, County, Zip Code
Useful Websites:
Internal Revenue Service,,id=96456,00.html
North Carolina Justice and Community Development Center
National Community Tax Coalition
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
The Brookings Institution
Refund Anticipation Loans
North Carolina Commissioner of Banks
Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina

Please contact Jess Dorrance for more information on the Research Committee.

To contribute to the N.C. Assets Alliance monthly newsletter or for general information about the N.C. Assets Alliance, contact Emila Sutton.
The North Carolina Assets Alliance is a 40-member state-wide coalition representing public, private and non-profit institutions with the vision to expand opportunity and build a more stable financial future for all North Carolinians. For more information, visit
Join Our Mailing List

Each year, eligible North Carolina workers and their families lose more than $132 million dollars because they fail to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit - the actual figure is probably closer to $250 million.
When coupled with the fact that most EITC dollars are spent locally, this means that the state easily loses another $350 million in local economic stimulus - money that could be boosting the state's economy, especially in its most disadvantaged communities.

To find a FREE Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site near you, please visit the EITC Carolinas Website.

Become a FAN of the NC Assets Alliance on Facebook!

Visit the NC Assets Alliance Facebook page for updates and information on asset building work accross the state and nationally. Join us!

Join the NC Assets Alliance Google Groups in your region!

Thank you to those who participated in the in the Community Forums in Wilmington, Greenville, Fayetteville, Winston-Salem, Asheville, and Charlotte hosted by the North Carolina Assets Alliance and the North Carolina Housing Coalition. We invite you to join the Google Groups (GG) in your region.  If you were unable to attend the forums, please feel free to join the group. We have created the online group to connect anyone in the your region that are interested in the asset building arena.

To join, please send an email request to Emila Sutton.
Quick Links to Members
Action for Children NC
The Arc of NC
Center for Responsible Lending
Community Reinvestment Association of NC
Easter Seals UCP of NC
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Atlanta Region Community Affairs
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond - Charlotte Office
Fiscal Progress
Good Work, Inc.
IDA and Asset Building Collaborative of NC
Latino Community Credit Union
MDC Inc., EITC Carolinas Initiative
NC Bankers' Association
NC Community Development Initiative
NC Council on Developmental Disabilities
NC Department of Commerce, Division of Community Assistance
NC Department of Labor, Individual Development Account Program
NC Housing Coalition
NC Housing Finance Agency
NC Justice Center
NC Indian Economic Development Initiative
NC Institute of Minority Economic Development
NC Office of the Commissioner of Banks
NC Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities
NC Rural Economic Development Center
NC State University Cooperative Extension
Southern Coalition for Social Justice
UNC Center for Community Capital
UNC School of Social Work
United Way of NC
Wilson County DSS