The Center for Economic Progress (CEP) helps hard-working, low-income families move from financial uncertainty to financial security. We offer a full-range of services to help families acquire the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to make sound financial choices.
CEP provides low-wage workers with free, high quality tax preparation and an alternative to paid tax preparers. In 2012, we operated volunteer-driven tax sites in more than 15 Illinois communities – making CEP's free tax prep program one of the largest and oldest statewide programs of its kind.
We serve families who make less than $50,000 and individuals who make less than $25,000. Based on these income guidelines, we can help one in three Illinois residents.
Through our tax clinic, we provide free, professional representation to low-wage taxpayers facing an IRS controversy. We also offer tax training for small businesses, such as childcare providers, to establish sound business practices, build their knowledge of record keeping and self-employment tax laws.
Our Tax Clinic has helped over 2,080 low-income families since 2000. In 2011, we have assisted 137 clients and saved them over $670,000 in federal tax liabilities.
We help promote financial education and sound money practices -- helping cut ties to predatory financial services.
We provide year-round workshops and one-on-one financial coaching to help clients set financial goals; create a spending plan; access safe and affordable bank products like bank accounts and small dollar loans; and review and correct credit reports and improve credit scores.
We have helped nearly 10,000 families open bank accounts and provided financial workshops in Chicago’s underserved communities to reach thousands more.
The Center for Economic Progress was founded in 1990 by Michael O’Connor, a veteran public benefits lawyer. Formerly the Center for Law and Human Services, the agency first focused on helping homeless families and individuals access services.