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Rep. John Lewis Questions IRS About Billions Available to the Poor Going Unclaimed

February 12, 2007
Press Release

Tomorrow February 13 in his first hearing as Chairman of the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Oversight, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) will explore why millions of low-income citizens are not taking advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit. In the 5th Congressional District of Georgia alone there are over 20 thousand residents eligible for the credit who could gain the benefit of more than $43 million in unclaimed funds. Nationwide about 75 percent of eligible taxpayers claim this benefit resulting in nearly $12 billion in unclaimed federal funds. Rep. Lewis will question the IRS and non-profit organizations that serve low-income communities about the dynamics which result in such a high proportion of unclaimed resources.

Since the Bush tax cuts of the last eight years and the high cost of the war on Iraq have left the federal government with record deficits, federal contributions to programs which assist low-income and middle class communities have been cut and sometimes eliminated altogether. The president's most recent budget proposes elimination of 91 programs and drastic reductions to 51 programs, many of which serve the families targeted by the earned income tax credit.

"Poor and moderate income families need all the help they can get today," said Chairman Lewis. "An earned income tax credit refund could mean more food on the table for hungry children, money to hold back evictions, life-saving medications for a senior citizen, or a winter coat for some child. That is why we must make sure that we place every possible tool in the hands of mothers and fathers who are struggling to support their families. The federal response to Hurricane Katrina made it clear that there is "no room at the inn" for poor families in America. Our government has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to their need. I want to do what I can to make a difference in their lives."

The subcommittee will hear testimony from:

Richard Morgante, Commissioner, Wage and Investment Division, International Revenue Service

David Williams, Director, Earned Income and Health Coverage Tax Credits

Karen Rogers, Director, Mayor's Office of Weed & Seed, Atlanta, Georgia

Bonnie Esposito, Executive Director, AccountAbility Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota

John Wancheck, Earned Income Tax Credit Outreach Campaign Coordinator, Center on Budget and Policy

Priorities, Washington, DC

Donna Klein, President and Chief Executive Office, Corporate Voices for Working Families,


Deborah Lum, Executive Director, Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, Atlanta, Georgia

The hearing will take place on Feb. 13th at 1:00 PM in the Rayburn House Office Building Room B-318. There is limited space for the press. Please call in advance to reserve space.