Campaign For Working Families Celebrates ‘Earned Income Tax Credit Day’ With The Grand Opening Of A Newly Acquired Building

by Sue Ann Rybak

Photos by Laura Elam

Campaign for Working Families (CWF), a nonprofit that helps working families with tax and financial assistance, celebrated the grand opening of their newly acquired building at its annual Earned Income Tax Credit Day (EITC) event on January 18th.

The ribbon-cutting occasion also marked the official start of tax season this month locally and nationally.

Over the years, the EITC has gained a track record as one of the nation’s most effective anti-poverty programs. Under the EITC, a family can get about $7,000 back on its tax return. Those who are single, with no kids, can receive even more. CWF service area includes Southern New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, which includes Philadelphia, long considered one of the nation’s poorest big cities.

Dr. Nikia Owens, CWF’s CEO and President, said tax credit awareness is critical to reducing poverty among low-income families and workers. (For perspective, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the poverty line for a family of four is $29,960, and for an individual, it is $14,891 in the United States.) Critical tax credits increase annual gross income for many people facing poverty.

“More than 50,000 eligible Philadelphians do not claim this credit each year, resulting in over $100 million left on the table,” noted Dr. Owens.

If you earned less than $63,698 in 2023 (if you are married and filing jointly) or $56,838 (if filing as an individual, surviving spouse, or as the head of household), you are eligible for the Earned Income Credit (EITC). 

CWF’s new home office at 935 N. 29th St. (near 29th Street and Girard Avenue) in Philadelphia’s Fairmount section is a three-story brownstone building covering 6,366 square feet. It is a landmark structure, modernized and refitted for office accommodations, built-in 1915. It features an antique charm of decorative glass arched windows with wainscoting and wood trim, a circular ceiling mural, pressed plaster decorative cornice, plaster ceiling medallions, two executive offices, ADA restrooms, four conference rooms, a reception area, and more. 

In addition to its volunteers, CWF employs a small but mighty staff of about 15 full-time employees and up to 130 seasonal staffers. Dr. Owens, who spearheaded the move, said the larger space allows her nonprofit to serve more people and continue its mission to improve the financial well-being of families and individuals. It now serves as the main base of operations in its network in an accessible neighborhood location.

Established in 2003, CFW continues to grow steadily and is now better equipped for its mission of providing free tax preparation for individuals and families, especially those living in underserved communities. 

In addition to its home office, CFW has 26 income tax sites throughout the region. In 2023, the nonprofit helped thousands of hardworking families get back a combined total of $7 million in EITC returns.

Attending the auspicious grand opening were Pennsylvania State Rep. Donna Bullock (D-Philadelphia), Philadelphia City Councilman Anthony Phillips (D), City Councilman Jeffery Young, Jr. (D), Tamir Harper, a representative from the Office of City Councilwoman-at-Large  Rue Landau, and other city officials. This event was hosted by multimedia host and FunTimes Magazine’s Jennifer K. Smith.

Both State Rep. Bullock and City Councilman Phillips presented Dr. Owens with separate ceremonial citations, and in their formal remarks, recognized CWF’s stellar efforts to promote economic equality by providing free tax preparation, family stability programming, and resource development.

Councilman Bullock said she looked forward to partnering with CWF and reiterated the importance of educating people about the EITC.

“As Dr. Owens mentioned earlier, over $100 million is left in the Department of Revenue,” she said., adding: “We need to bring those dollars back to our community, so they can help our families put food on their table.” 

Councilman Phillips also praised CWF: “Campaign for Working Families helps people get back on their feet and support themselves,” he said.

The councilman pointed out that taxes can be complicated and confusing.

“People don’t want to get in trouble with the IRS,” said Phillips. “They don’t want any delinquencies. They just want to get refunds.”

Fifty-nine percent of CWF’s clients make less than $20,000 a year. On average, the nonprofit saves individuals between $200 to $300 annually. Dr. Owens said people in need fall back into poverty over less than a $400 expense. In 2023, CWF served more than 20,000 individuals and helped refund $32 million in income tax refunds.

This year, the nonprofit’s goal is to serve 40,000 people. CWF services clients conveniently through scheduled in-person appointments, walk-ins, drop-offs, and online tax preparation.

Dr. Owens said that if you missed filing your taxes last year, not to worry; CWF can assist with you with the tax-filing process for 2023, and for even prior years. The fewer unclaimed dollars left on the table, the better.

And with more awareness and outreach, more families will benefit.

“We are tired of the same narrative that we are the poorest city in the nation, with a deep poverty rate,” she said. “The way to change that is to put money in people’s pockets that is already there.”

For more information about Campaign for Working Families go to www.cwfphilly.org or call 215-454- 6483.

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