CDC Foundation Releases New EITC Public Health Action Guide

By Juan Tirado

A new guide for public health practitioners makes the case for why the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is one of the most effective health interventions available and offers a blueprint for increasing EITC participation.

The CDC Foundation’s “EITC Public Health Action Guide” builds on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s HI-5 Initiative, which highlights federal and state policies that address the social determinants of health. The CDC found that by putting money back in the pockets of working families, the EITC can significantly improve health outcomes in five years or less. By boosting a family’s income, the EITC reduces food insecurity and allows families to allocate more funds toward childcare, medical care, and healthier food options. By putting more money into local economies, the EITC reduces healthcare costs and improves maternal and child health outcomes.

Despite the program’s proven success in lifting families out of poverty, barriers to awareness and access still pose a challenge to EITC participation. According to the IRS, one in every five workers who is eligible for the EITC does not claim the credit. The CDC Foundation’s action guide seeks to fill in those gaps by offering public health practitioners concrete action steps to increase local EITC participation. The guide recommends practitioners collaborate with anti-poverty and child advocacy groups; use tax season as an opportunity to inform people about free tax assistance; consider hosting a volunteer tax preparation service at their organization; educate lawmakers on EITC-related public health data; and use messaging that resonates in their respective communities.

Read the full guide to learn more about the role the public health sector can play in strengthening the EITC.