Behavior Encouragement: Increasing Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Uptake
Last registered on April 03, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Behavior Encouragement: Increasing Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Uptake
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005223
Initial registration date
December 30, 2019
Last updated
April 03, 2020 9:30 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Virginia Department of Social Services
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Virginia Department of Social Services
PI Affiliation
Virginia Department of Social Services
PI Affiliation
Internal Revenue Service
PI Affiliation
Virginia Department of Social Services
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2020-01-20
End date
2020-10-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
VDSS’ commitment to triumphing over poverty extends beyond the direct anti-poverty programs we administer with our local partners to include free tax prep sites and performing outreach for the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC). The EITC has been shown to a very effective policy tool for lifting people out of poverty, and promoting it is directly aligned with our mission. VDSS is statutorily mandated to conduct annual EITC outreach to our customers who are likely eligible. In a 2006 finding by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission that only 13 percent of VDSS customers who were eligible for the EITC in 2003 claimed it. The impact of VDSS' current outreach is unclear. The proposed study intends to conduct a randomized control trial to test the effectiveness of different types of texts on tax filing outcomes. Our theory of change states that providing customers relevant, needed information (i.e. location/access to tax preparation services, amount of estimated refund) through communications channels they regularly use (i.e. text messaging) will directly influence their decision to file and claim the EITC. Therefore, we hypothesize that sending our customers text messages related to the EITC will have a statistically significant impact on the number of people who file taxes and claim the EITC. After contacting all identified customers we plan to compile responses, use those responses to understand which method of communication is most effective in getting our customers to file their taxes and claim the EITC, and improve our outreach plans.
Registration Citation
Citation
Kauffman, Sandra et al. 2020. "Behavior Encouragement: Increasing Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Uptake." AEA RCT Registry. April 03. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5223-1.3.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The goal of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of different types of text messaging reminding eligible Virginia Department of Social Services customers to file a federal tax return and claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Intervention Start Date
2020-01-20
Intervention End Date
2020-04-15
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Eligible Virginia Department of Social Services customers filing a federal tax return and claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The Office of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives in conjunction with the Office of Research and Planning within the Virginia Department of Social Services proposes to conduct a randomized control trial to test the effectiveness of different types of texts (e.g. generic vs. stating an amount vs. using a geolink vs. using a direct link to services) on tax filing outcomes. Our theory of change states that providing customers relevant, needed information (i.e. location/access to tax preparation services, amount of estimated refund) through communications channels they regularly use (i.e. text messaging) will directly influence their decision to file and claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Therefore, we hypothesize that sending our customers text messages related to the EITC will have a statistically significant impact on the number of people who file taxes and claim the EITC.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Each individual in our sample will be randomly assigned to the control group or a treatment group.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
300,000 to 400,000 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
300,000 to 400,000 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
60,000- 80,000 control, 60,000- 80,000 treatment A (generic text), 60,000- 80,000 treatment B (dollar amount), 60,000- 80,000 treatment C (geolink), 60,000- 80,000 treatment D (code for America link).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Institutional Review Board (IRB)
IRB Approval Date
2020-01-15
IRB Approval Number
IRB00000522
IRB Name
VIrginia Deparment of Social Services Institutional Review Board (IRB)
IRB Approval Date
2019-12-18
IRB Approval Number
VDSS IRB #2019-01
Analysis Plan

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