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Power Station

Mar 4, 2019

What does it take to build wealth in low-income and communities of color? It requires more than personal responsibility and savings. Bridging our nation’s gaping racial wealth divide means taking on systemic barriers: racism, student debt, low wages and resistance to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. We need changes to the US Tax Code, which, as Joseph Leitmann-Santa Cruz, Acting Director of Capital Area Asset Builders explains, “rewards the rich, misses the middle and penalizes the poor.” A former wealth adviser, Joseph now uses his financial acumen to advocate for the Earned Income Tax Code, our nation's most effective poverty alleviation tool. 

The EITC is critical public policy that makes low-income wage earners eligible for a credit that could be transformational in their family's fortunes. In combination with other financial education and resources, families that file for a receive a credit can aspire to and reach financial goals, from a college education to the purchase of a home or the launch of a small business. It is particularly important for undocumented immigrants, who may be the most reluctant to file.

In Washington DC, where over 1/3 of the residents are unbanked or underbanked, Capital Area Asset Builder leads a network of nonprofits, City government, corporate and foundation partners, in advocating for the EITC. CAAB also promotes the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, a critical alternative to the unregulated tax preparers who strip wealth wealth in poor communities. Listen to Joseph Leitmann-Santa Cruz and become part of the national conversation.