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Policy Innovation Briefs
As part of the Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, CFED is highlighting creative public policies that help thousands of low- and middle-income people build assets through a variety of means including business ownership, matched savings accounts, and affordable housing. The Scorecard’s Policy Innovation Briefs provide useful background information on how these policies work and how they have been adopted by state and local governments. Click here to download and read each brief.
CFED Innovator Gene Severens
As the visionary who led CFED’s Self-Employment Tax Initiative (SETI) from its formative and conceptualization stages all the way to helping over 20,000 low-income entrepreneurs start their businesses right, Gene Severens can be considered the original CFED ‘Innovator-in-Residence.’ more
Gene’s “eureka moment” came from a conversation with a colleague working at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site in Queens, NY. She explained her work with clients and how she helped them access the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). That conversation turned on a light bulb in Gene’s head and he quickly saw that the EITC could help not only wage and salary earners, but also self-employed small business owners. EITC can provide thousands of dollars of capital that can be reinvested in the small business and can help self-employed individuals with household expenses.
The result of that insight and much hard work by Gene and his colleagues was the major initiative CFED now calls SETI. SETI has already provided free tax preparation services to over 20,000 low-income entrepreneurs, saved them a whopping $6 million in tax preparation fees and generated over $13.5 million in business capital.
Gene’s vision is still taking SETI in new directions and to greater impact. State and federal policy initiatives and market delivery mechanisms hold great potential for reaching thousands and even millions of small business owners and self-employed Americans.
Gene is now a proud grandfather and semi-retired. Despite all of the incredible accomplishments he can claim, he remains humble, noting that he’s been lucky to have had some of the right ideas at the right time.
For more information about Gene or about the Self-Employment Tax Initiative, click here.
Gene Severens is Senior Advisor to SETI, the Self-Employment Tax Initiative, and was previously Director of the Initiative. Prior to joining CFED, Gene worked in rural microenterprise development in Nebraska and in 1994 founded the Nebraska Microenterprise Partnership Fund.