1 in 5 Eligible Americans Missed Out on $16 Billion in 2017

Apr 11, 2018
April 11, 2018, 12:36 pm

In January, Communally, the antipoverty technology company, released the Hidden Help: The Unclaimed Poverty Assistance Report, which estimated that over $16 billion was left on the table from unclaimed Earned Income Tax Credit in tax year 2016.

As tax year 2017 draws to a close, the technology company is re-releasing the information to raise awareness about one of the most successful poverty fighting tools in America.

“It is simply unacceptable that help meant for those struggling the most in our communities is not getting to them,” said Christopher Jacobs, CEO of Communally. “We have a crisis of poverty in this country, and government assistance is supposed to give citizens the ability to move forward and make real choices in their lives. Instead we have a system that leaves many families in a state of total instability with a lack of hope.”

The top-level facts of the report include:

  • 6.6 million Americans eligible for the EITC did not claim it in Tax Year 2016; losing out on a total of $16.3 billion.
  • In 25 states, more than 20% of individuals eligible for EITC it in Tax Year 2014 did not claim it. And, in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. the percentage increased to 25%. For these jurisdictions, this means 1 in 4 eligible families did not receive this vital support.
  • In Mississippi, 84% of eligible individuals claimed the benefit; this was the highest of any state. Of the 432,800 individuals eligible, 364,000 made the claim.

According to the City of Philadelphia Department of Revenue, more than 197,000 Philadelphians received an EITC refund in previous tax years, but over 40,000 of those who were eligible never applied—leaving over $100 million on the table. And the average refund is $2,500. In a city plagued by deep poverty, Philadelphia is a prime location for families to strengthen their financial security through the EITC.

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