Every day, many low- and moderate-income North Carolina households struggle to meet their basic needs and to move toward economic security and stability. Yet more than $1 billion in government supports in the form of tax credits, nutrition assistance, health insurance and student financial aid remain unclaimed each year by eligible North Carolina families.

When secured, these supports reduce poverty, encourage and sustain employment, improve welfare-to-work success rates, help students and displaced workers complete postsecondary education and training, improve health outcomes, increase economic mobility, and reduce recidivism among returning ex-offenders.

MDC designed The Benefit Bank® of North Carolina (TBB™-NC) as a statewide initiative that combines grassroots outreach and use of an online expert service called The Benefit Bank to connect eligible households with work supports—tax credits, nutrition assistance, health insurance, and student financial aid.

TBB-NC trains volunteers and staff from community-based organizations to serve as counselors to help low-income families in person. The service is also available online for self-service use by clients.

Since 2013, TBB-NC has focused primarily on connecting low-income families with free federal and state income tax assistance and tax refunds and credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

GOALS

  • Assist low- and moderate-income clients in keeping more of their hard-earned income by reducing the predominance of paid tax preparers
  • To bolster the work of community organizations in helping their clients out of poverty, homelessness, and hunger
  • To supplements efforts of organizations participating in the IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program by:
    • Offering free income tax assistance through TBB-NC to a broader range of the public because TBB-NC's income limit ($95,000) is higher than VITA's ($60,000)
    • Extend free self-service tax-filing assistance to more North Carolinians
    • Expand the traditional tax-filing calendar to include preparation of back taxes for up to three years
    • Boost the capacity of community-based organizations to provide access tax credits and student financial aid

Impact

  • Served more than 20,000 households
  • Helped low-income families apply for income tax refunds and credits worth more than $40 million, Food and Nutrition Services worth more than $21 million, and health insurance worth more than $10 million since 2010

GO DEEPER

For more information on MDC and The Benefit Bank® of North Carolina, contact Ralph Gildehaus or visit The Benefit Bank of North Carolina.