IABG: Partner Spotlight: Center for Economic Progress

Posted on 03/03/2016 by Jody Blaylock at Heartland Alliance

During the 2016 tax season, the Center for Economic Progress (CEP) will help nearly 20,000 Illinoisans file their taxes. CEP is currently running 15 free Volunteer Income Tax Preparation (VITA) sites in Chicago, the suburbs, and Springfield, where hundreds of trained volunteers help people complete their tax return and claim vital tax credits.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) are critical federal tax credits for working families, and they were expanded permanently last year. In 2012, the EITC put approximately $2.5 billion dollars back into the Illinois economy. On top of the federal tax credits, hard working families can also claim Illinois state EITC. CEP plays a big role helping Illinois families access these tax credits.

As of mid-February, CEP has already completed nearly 5,000 tax returns, and helped bring more than $10.5 million back into the pockets of low-income workers.

Want to know more about their tax prep sites?

Find a free tax prep site near you, or file your taxes online. Please spread the word about CEP's tax help using their flyers in English and Spanish!

Outside of Chicago?

You can find a free tax prep site near you here.

Need Resources to Help Educate Your Community About Tax Credits?

The Center on Budget & Policy Priorities leads the "Get It Back Campaign." They have a ton of great resources to help you educate your community about important tax credits for working families.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also has some helpful tax-time tips to help you make the most of your tax refund.

CEP's Financial Coaching: The Progress Program

CEP's work doesn't end when the tax season wraps up. They help their clients become and stay financially secure year-round. CEP is launching their fourth cycle of their Progress Program, a free 3-month financial coaching program that helps clients achieve personalized financial goals. The program includes biweekly meetings with a volunteer financial coach, and offers a chance to win over $1,000 in prizes for people who achieve their savings and/or debt reduction goals.

Last year, 59 participants graduated from the program. They saved a total of $14,522 and reduced their debt by $18,083.

Volunteer with CEP

They have just begun recruiting volunteers to be financial coaches in this Progress Program cycle! If you are interested, you can apply to be a volunteer here.

Learn more about the Center for Economic Progress and their work.

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