Human Services

Center for Economic Progress

aka CEP

Chicago, IL


The Center for Economic Progress (CEP) helps low-income, working families as a trusted provider of tax and financial services. Everything we do, from direct service to informing public policy, improves the financial stability of those we serve.

CEP provides tax and financial services across Illinois.

Ruling Year


President & CEO

Mr. David Marzahl

Main Address

567 W. Lake St. Suite 1150

Chicago, IL 60661 USA


CEP, tax preparation, legal services, services for unbanked, Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, financial planning, financial coaching, asset-building, public benefits, working poor, financial, human service, public, poverty, low-income families, working poor, financial education, financial stability, financial capability, tax educadtion, tax controversies, innocent spouse relief, benefit screening, credit review, Chicago, tax refunds, credit building, workforce development, public benefit screening, financial product counseling, review credit report, National Community Tax Coalition, NCTC





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Financial Counseling, Money Management (P51)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (P01)

Management & Technical Assistance (P02)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Tax Help

Tax Clinic

Financial Capability

Where we workNew!

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Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

The Center for Economic Progress envisions an America of shared prosperity, where all working families can access the financial opportunities they need to succeed. Combined, our free tax and financial services provide low-income families with the knowledge and tools that will help them achieve financial security.


We are passionate about our mission. It fuels and drives our work every day and in every way. We are committed to having measurable impact on people's lives. We seek to address root causes, and we realize that this requires us to address issues at multiple levels by providing services of the highest caliber.


The true measure of our success is whether individual lives—and communities—change for the better as a result of our work. We recognize that the way we do things is extremely important in determining what we achieve.


We respect and value diversity in our employees, board members, volunteers and our clients. We treat all people equally and with dignity.


Our thoughts, words and actions are in alignment. We do what we say, and we say what we mean. We always do the right thing—that which is ethically correct—even when no one is looking.


We recognize employees and volunteers as our best assets, and we strive to celebrate each other's accomplishments. We work to create a positive environment where we express our appreciation for, and recognition of others.

The Center for Economic Progress is led by an accomplished team of professionals. Representing diverse disciplines, this team shares a common goal: helping hard-working families achieve financial security.

CEP is a national leader in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) field. We have run the largest program in Illinois, led a national coalition of free tax preparation programs and produced numerous reports on new findings in the field. CEP stands apart from other VITA agencies by running both a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic and a Financial Capability Program as well. This allows CEP to leverage its experience and broad client base to provide the legal and educational services that address issues that affect a family's long term financial stability. Experience and understanding of the field allows CEP to be a leading voice on public policy.

On a day-to-day basis, CEP's utilization of an agency wide database allows the organization to track progress towards annual goals in real time. Staff can check metrics to determine is programs are on track and make adjustments to resources when needed.

In 2014, CEP embarked on a new three year strategic plan to ensure that its year to year work contributes towards its larger, long term goals. Comparison of program accomplishments to the strategic plan will provide indications of progress towards agency goals. CEP will begin a new strategic planning phase in late 2017.

According to the 2012 Annual Report to Congress released by the National Taxpayer Advocate, the most serious problem facing taxpayers today is the complexity of the tax code. This complexity creates unfortunate controversies as “taxpayers who honestly seek to comply with the law often make inadvertent errors, causing them to…become subject to IRS enforcement action." This problem pertains especially to low-income households, who have far less access to professional tax help, yet must navigate complex guidelines for anti-poverty tax credits, deductions, and definitions for head-of-household and dependent status.

CEP has increased its free tax preparation program in consecutive years to reach more taxpayers who qualify for our services. Providing this crucial support not only helps families save money and access important work supports such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, it prevents families from taking up harmful financial habits such as predatory pay day loans. Through our free Tax Clinic, CEP provides legal advice and representation to low-income taxpayers facing a controversy with the IRS or Illinois Department of Revenue.

While CEP's work has helped over 350,000 individuals and families since 1990, there is more work to be done. CEP will continue to provide the services low-income families need to get ahead financially, and it will improve those services to better address the complex needs of its clients. At the same time, CEP will continue to be a leading voice on policy issues to ensure that crucial programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit remain available to the families that benefit from them.

External Reviews


Center for Economic Progress

Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Need more info on this nonprofit?

Need more info on this nonprofit?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2016 and 2015
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to view a Sample Report.


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2016 and 2015
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?