Can Nudges Increase Take-up of the EITC?: Evidence from Multiple Field Experiments
- American Economic Journal: Economic Policy (Forthcoming)
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) distributes more than
$60 billion to over 20 million low-income families annually. Nevertheless, an estimated one-fifth of eligible households do not claim
it. We ran six pre-registered, large-scale field experiments to test
whether "nudges" could increase EITC take-up (N=1 million).
Despite varying the content, design, messenger, and mode of our
messages, we find no evidence that they affected households' likelihood of filing a tax return or claiming the credit. We conclude
that even the most behaviorally informed low-touch outreach efforts
cannot overcome the barriers faced by low-income households who
do not file returns.
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