Mar 23 2009

The Economics of Serving Low-Income Employees at Tax Time


The Economics of Serving Low-Income Employees at Tax Time: Implications for Credit Unions, explores a partnership between Progress Through Business, a nonprofit organization focused on poverty alleviation issues, and H&R Block to offer tax preparation to low-income employees of Staples, Inc. The report shows how tax preparation services, corporations and nonprofit organizations can work together in the process. The study was conducted with funding from the National Credit Union Foundation and its Signature program, REAL Solutions

More than 400 Staples employees took advantage of tax preparation and benefits enrollment services. These employees reaped immediate financial benefits in the form of higher tax credits or refunds and other tax advantages. The combination of tax preparation and public and private benefits enrollment also significantly increased employee participation in such employer-sponsored plans as employee stock purchase plans, 401(k) retirement plans, and tuition reimbursement programs. Enrollment in public benefits also increased, with higher claims for Earned Income Tax Credit, child care credits, renters credits, education credits, and other benefits aimed at low-income taxpayers.

The advantage for Staples was a reduction in employee turnover. After one full year of tracking, those who participated in the program during the 2007 tax season showed a 32% improvement in retention over those who did not participate. The authors, John Hoffmire, University of Wisconsin and Tom Harms had this to say of the findings: “For each employee who participated in this program at a cost of $75, the company saved $480.”

More information on developing a Web site to help employees and sample marketing materials are available here.

Report Number 179