ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Dr. Colleen Fogarty, the Chair of the University of Rochester Department of Family Medicine, knows all about how tax credits and broadband access connect with health benefits.

“The Earned Income Tax Credit can give families a refund at tax time or lower the amount of taxes owed and there’s a really important benefit here for particularly the children in these families,” said Dr. Fogarty. “That benefit is that there’s access to some more resources. So, if a parent needs to get a child a certain kind of thing for their school or some other resource that will help the child’s growth and development it’s an important availability. In health care, we know that there are social determinants of health, and for families who don’t have enough money that can be a big deterrent for getting into the doctor or doing other activities that will promote health. So the amount here is worth up to $6,600 depending on the family size and depending on the family’s income and marital status.”

Dr. Fogarty added, “These dollars can be spent on local or fresh produce or other kinds of activities—perhaps the dues for a small sports team or other kinds of things like that that the family might not ordinarily be able to do.”

In order to claim the EITC, you must file a tax return.

When it comes to broadband access, Dr. Fogarty explained efforts to make the internet more widely available are essential when it comes to a family’s overall health.

“For children in this pandemic era who needed to be on Zoom for school, we know that children’s main job, if you will, is to grow, develop, and learn. And our education systems allow children to learn and to develop. So for families who had poor access to broadband or no access, those kids were left really hanging without an educational opportunity. So that’s one benefit. The other benefit is that the availability of information these days, as you know, is very dependent on the internet. And so, someone who has access to looking up some medical information—some health information—or actually getting on the patient portal and accessing their own health care team, looking up their own labs—a parent who suddenly needs vaccine records for something that’s due at school can log on to their children’s health record and print out their immunization record. So, again, broadband really allows people to learn, grow, and thrive in the health care area as well.”

More information about the Emergency Broadband Benefit is available online.