This year, hundreds of thousands of Americans became eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) for the first time. Through a new grant award, Accounting Aid Society is working with AARP to ensure that everyone who now can claim the credit gets a chance to do so. 

The grant from the AARP Foundation centers on researching what barriers exist for people age 55 years and older that may prevent them from utilizing the earned income tax credit and what options may be best to reach and educate this group. 

The research initiative launched during this recent tax season with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) team surveying clients in this age bracket to gauge their understanding of the credit and gauge their awareness of eligibility. A follow-up survey was conducted after taxes were filed. The data will help inform AARP’s massive efforts to educate seniors nationwide on the EIC and what it could mean for their refund opportunities. 

In addition, AAS will soon begin working with Wayne State University researchers to examine these issues to determine what educational efforts might be most effective in encouraging use of the credit. 

“A large percentage of the population that qualifies for the EIC don’t use it – close to 20 percent of more,” says Gabrielle Thomas, AAS chief operating officer. This research will help reduce that number in the years to come, using hard data to find the best methods of outreach. 

AAS was one of only three organizations nationwide chosen to partner with AARP on this initiative.