Philadelphia councilman aims to help residents apply for tax credits

Philadelphia councilman aims to help residents apply for tax credits
Sam Newhouse

Real estate developer and freshman city councilman Allan Domb has what could be described as an obsession.

At random moments and unrelated news conferences, he is known to bring it up: the millions of dollars that Philadelphia residents are leaving on the table by not applying for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

“There is over $100 million in federal money that we leave in Washington, D.C. every year that could assist and help 40,000 Philadelphians,” he said Monday. “This is a no-brainer. We all should be focused on this.”

To do his part, the councilman on Mondayopened The Domb Center, a new volunteer tax assistance site in Center City staffed by the Campaign for Working Families Inc. Domb donated the office space to help people in need get tax returns and signup for all applicable credits.

“It’s not just the Earned Income credit. There are so many other tax credits for them to receive,” said Mary Arthur, executive director of the Campaign for Working Families, which helped more than 30,000 families file their returns last year. “Anything that we can do to bring back as many dollars to families as we can is important to us.”

According to city Department of Revenue reports from 2015 and 2016, one out of five eligible families does not apply for the EITC, a federal tax benefit for low-to-moderate income working families. By the numbers, that means about 40,000 families are missing out on nearly $100 million in benefits each year, according to the Department of Revenue.

“Eighty-one percent of our children in the public school system are in poverty. The parents of those children should be looking into this system,” Domb said. “There’s nothing people in government can do that’s more helpful than helping 40,000 people receive more dollars.”

Domb, who has also chosen to donate his City Council salary to Philly public schools, pointed out that if Philadelphia families have more money in their pockets, those funds will likely flow back into the city’s economy.

“Tell 10 people you think might qualify,” he said. “We need to get this in their hands. It’s the most important thing we can do for the city.”

Want the EITC?

The Domb Center (121 S. Broad St., Suite #1001) is providing free tax return services to individuals earning less than $20,000 a year and families earning less than $54,000 a year.

Applicants must bring photo ID and Social Security cards including for dependents to get assistance.

Hours: Mon-Thurs: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Fri: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Sat: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.