Eligibility doesn’t equal access — feat. Center for Taxpayer Rights’ Nina Olson and Community Legal Services’ Jen Burdick

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Poverty researchers estimate that the income-boosting provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act, which President Biden signed into law last month, will cut child poverty in half, and that overall poverty in the U.S. will fall by one-third over the next year. But should we expect those promised reductions in poverty to transfer from spreadsheets to real life? A lot of the answer to this question hinges on whether federal policymakers take the steps needed to ensure we don’t just make folks ELIGIBLE for historic income security protections like the new child allowance, the EITC expansion for workers not caring for kids in their own homes, and $1,400 relief checks—but whether we make sure low-income individuals and families can actually ACCESS these benefits.

So for this week's pod, Rebecca sat down with two of the advocates working on the access part of the equation: Nina Olson, executive director of the Center for Taxpayer Rights, who served from 2001 until 2019 as the IRS’s internal watchdog known as the national taxpayer advocate; and Jen Burdick, a lawyer in the public benefits unit at Community Legal Services.

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