Mary Arthur, CEO of Campaign for Working Families Inc., on Tax Rebates and Access to Stimulus ChecksJul 08, 2021 01:00PM ● By Nana Ama Addo
(Mary Arthur, with Jim Donovan, Anchor at CBS3 Philly, and Michael DiBeradinis, former Managing Director of the City of Philadelphia )
It has been over a year and a half since the pandemic struck the United States, and families are still coping with COVID’s effect on their finances. In 2017, Pew Charitable Trusts found that almost 26% of Philadelphia’s population live below the poverty line, and although COVID-19 has exacerbated the hardships of many, there are resources available that can cushion citizens.
We spoke to Mary Arthur, the CEO/President of Campaign for Working Families (CWF), to learn about their current programs, and strategies they are using to provide communities with access to financial resources such as tax rebates and COVID-19 stimulus checks.
Campaign for Working Families, a Philadelphia non-profit, works to provide working families with access to finances through asset development, free tax preparation, and resource development.
Arthur has been serving the community through CWF for 16 years and has been the President/CEO since 2016. In discussing the barriers some families face to receiving their stimulus, Arthur says: “A lot of people didn’t receive their stimulus because of little or no income. For the stimulus checks, you are looking at $1200 for the first round, $600 for the second round, and $1400 for the third round. One can access this with a 2020 tax return. There are a lot of dollars available, and we want to make sure they are getting access to funds.”
If one has not done their taxes, Arthur says now is a great time to do so, and they can help. “We can do taxes 3 years back. Each year you don’t file you will pay more and more. It is better for people to file and owe than accumulate the file in penalties.”
As part of a new Child Tax Credit Initiative, families with children are eligible to receive up to $3,600 per child under 6 and $3,000 per child between the age of 6 and 17. “This program was approved for one year. We are working to get it approved for the next 5 years. If you don’t use it you lose it”, says Arthur.
In highlighting the importance of taxes, Arthur says: “I look at taxes as the foundation of your life. When you want to buy a house and go to college, you need taxes. It is an integral part of your financial well-being. No one is perfect, but you have to make every single effort to file.”
Arthur says there are more than 400,000 children in Philly and part of Delaware County that would qualify for Child Tax Credit funds, but it is difficult to tell how many are filing their taxes. She cites the power of the community in mobilizing people’s initiative, in terms of accessing the available funds, by saying: “There is a distrust with the IRS, and skepticism when people are giving free money. Someone’s neighbor getting their advanced payment will catalyze other people getting their payment.”
CWF embraces a holistic approach to serving the Philadelphia community. Arthur explains: “The campaign is more than taxes. We had a program at King High school and partnered with Kumar Financial Services. We are also targeting the health arena.”
In recounting the inspiration behind the additional services CWF offers, Arthur says: “When people came in they would be sitting for sometimes 2 hours to get served, so we added a resource team for people to see what programs people are eligible for, like credit counseling, credit reports, nutrition. People are penalized for one day off, so if we can provide these services in this one opportunity it works better for the client.”
A community-focused approach has helped CWF sustain its impact. Arthur says: “I am the lead but the team that works in tandem is so important. One person can’t do this and it is important to say. Everybody plays a huge role in the campaign.”
On July 9th, CWF will host a free tax prep event at their office, at 1415 N. Broad Street, Suite 221-A. Learn more about their services here: https://cwfphilly.org.
Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Nana Ama tells stories of entrepreneurship and Ghana repatriation at her brand, Asiedua’s Imprint.