What's the Best Way to Give Tax Refunds to the Working Poor?

Gillian recently explored “How the Tax-Prep Industry Takes Advantage of Low-Income Filers”—namely by overcharging poor people to process the refund they receive through the Earned Income Tax Credit. “A new report finds that some Americans are giving away nearly 25 percent of their refund for services they could get for free,” Gillian wrote. Here’s a representative experience from a reader:

I get the EITC. This year I got my taxes done at H&R Block and they charged me almost $400. They didn’t have any price listings anywhere and didn’t explain pricing in person before we started. I walked in thinking it was a $50-100 service and left feeling scammed. Yes my refund is large, but that’s my emergency fund for the entire year. Next time I’ll know better.

A helpful email via hello@ just came in from two doctors, Michael Hole and Lucy Marcil, plugging a program they founded to help low-income people keep more of their tax money:

As pediatricians, we think Gillian B. White’s article means more than major tax-prep chains like H&R Block and Liberty taking money from America’s most vulnerable and working families. It means potential damage to the health and wellbeing of the country’s future and most precious resource—her children.