For many families, income tax preparation is a challenge as they try to navigate a complicated system. As a result, they often do not receive the tax benefits they are entitled. StreetCred is an innovative program established at Boston Medical Center which offers free tax services to families receiving pediatric care at BMC, who are eligible to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit. Based out of the Department of Pediatrics, the service functions as a solution to the financial burden a significant portion of BMC patients face from living with annual incomes below the federal poverty level. "Just like we wouldn't fail to give vaccines to children, we also can't fail to help poor families get these valuable tax credits," explains co-founder and BMC pediatrician, Michael Hole, MD, MBA. "Not only have they earned them, we also know these tax credits improve infant and maternal health as well as long-term educational and financial outcomes for children. Failing to make sure our families get this money is failing to give our pediatric patients the best shot in life."
By helping families receive appropriate tax credits and their full tax refunds, the goal is to improve the overall well-being of the family's health through poverty reduction. By achieving greater financial stability, families and their children have higher participation in their pediatric care and lower toxic stress. In its pilot year, with the help of BMC staff and volunteers who serve as tax experts, StreetCred filed tax returns for 186 families, which resulted in a total return of $401,275 of which $96,209 was from the EITC.