Efforts to improve the financial security of Native Americans – approximately one in four of whom live in families with income below the federal poverty line – are increasing. Poverty and other barriers to economic development among tribal communities stem from historical interactions with the federal government. Land trust regulations restricted resources and job opportunities on native lands. As a result, native communities are often careful about relations with the federal government or people who are not part of their community. Eligible people in tribal communities may hesitate to claim tax credits they are eligible for, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC).
- Tribal health agencies, urban Indian centers, tribal Head Start or housing agencies, and tribal councils
- Tribal community colleges and universities
- Native media
- Native-owned businesses
1. Get to know the community.
There are 574 federally recognized tribes, bands, nations, pueblos, rancherias, communities, and Native villages, in addition to many other groups that are not federally recognized. It is important for outreach approaches and messages to be consistent with the values and beliefs of individual tribes. Find out from community members how to work with tribal elders or other leaders who plays an essential role in influencing community priorities. To find tribal leaders, visit the Tribal Leaders Directory.
2. Partner with tribal community colleges and universities.
Often these schools serve as career centers, libraries, economic development centers, public meeting spaces, and child care centers. They may be able to provide space, computers, and volunteers to serve as free tax preparation sites. These schools can also share tax credit information with students. Visit the American Indian Higher Education Consortium for information on tribal colleges and universities.
3. Promote tax credits through Native media.
Native media can share information in the language or dialect of the community. Newspapers can publish stories about how the tax credits have helped tribal members and they can advertise free tax filing help. Also reach out to non-Native media that might interest tribal members.
4. Reach out to urban Native Americans.
More than 70 percent of the nearly seven million Native Americans nationwide live in urban communities. The following five cities have large American Indian and Alaska Native populations: New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Anchorage, and Oklahoma City.
5. Share information about the 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit and expanded Earned Income Tax Credit.
The 2021 American Rescue Plan included multiple temporary one-year tax credit changes.The 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit is worth up to $3,600 for each child under 6 years old, and $3,000 for each child between 6 and 17 years old. The 2021 expanded EITC is worth up to $1,500 for workers not raising children or up to $6,700 for workers raising children in their home.
People who were eligible for the 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit or the 2021 expanded Earned Income Tax Credit and didn’t claim them can file a 2021 tax return by April 18, 2025. Learn more about filing prior year taxes.
- First Nations Oweesta Corporation Publications:
- National Congress of American Indians
- Native Financial Education Coalition
- Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition (national organization)