2010 Low Income Initiative Progress Report
Asset-Building Initiatives Help Poor Get More
Earned Income Tax Credit
Many of us live paycheck to paycheck because we place more emphasis on our desires than our needs. However, for some working poor Americans, living paycheck to paycheck is the only way they can survive.
To give these hardworking people an opportunity to catch up on bills, fix their vehicles or improve their homes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has tax credits in place for eligible low-income individuals and families. Congress originally approved the tax credit legislation in 1975 to offset the burden of Social Security taxes as well as provide an incentive to work. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) provided more than 24 million people with almost $50 billion in refunds in 2009. In fact, five million people-half of them children-are lifted out of poverty each year because of EITC.
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Entergy partners with the IRS to educate as many of its eligible customers as possible. The company's staff and volunteers help customers complete and file their tax forms for all benefits and refunds the customers are entitled to receive. With refunds averaging nearly $3,000 per household, the money means fixing or purchasing adequate transportation, paying for child care, seeking medical expertise or making home improvements to save money on utility bills.
In February 2009, Entergy Texas partnered with Lamar University's Community Outreach department to hold its 2009 EITC Day Kickoff and VITA Site Opening. More than $28,000 in refunds were recorded during the first day from only 20 returns. In April, Entergy Mississippi placed calls and distributed bill inserts to 20,000 low-income customers in Madison, Rankin and Hines counties to spread word of United Way's free tax preparation and EITC program. As a result, more than $3.6 million in refunds were returned to the Jackson, Mississippi, area.
Moving Toward Self-Sufficiency
Entergy aspires to break the cycle of poverty by helping
low-income customers move toward self-sufficiency. Our
efforts in this area range from supporting research on the
importance of early childhood education to partnering
with the Foundation for the Mid South to help customers
accumulate assets in individual development accounts.
In 2009, the Entergy Charitable Foundation awarded a $200,000
grant to United Way of Greater New Orleans for an individual
development account program designed specifically to help
participants purchase a home or vehicle, start or expand a
child-care business or pursue post-secondary education. The
program has 103 enrolled participants. Of those enrolled,
88 participants have completed financial-literacy training,
86 have completed homebuyer training, five have completed
vehicle-purchasing training and two have completed training
on operating a child-care business. As of year-end 2009, 30
participants had achieved their savings goal — 25 to purchase a
home and five to purchase a vehicle.