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Assets & Opportunity Network TA Fund: Integrating Financial Coaching Throughout Wayne Metro Community Action Agency

Posted by mlulion on 04/01/2015

By Kori Hattemer and Fran Rosebush on 03/05/2015 @ 10:30 AM

Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency (Wayne Metro), an Assets & Opportunity Network Lead Local Organization, applied to the A&O Network Technical Assistance (TA) Fund to expand financial coaching services throughout their departments and programs. They recognized that clients receiving services across their organization had financial insecurity needs and concerns and they saw benefit in being able to increase their capacity and staff ability to talk about financial matters with clients.

In order to expand and integrate their financial coaching work throughout their service delivery, Wayne Metro worked with A&O Network staff to assess their staff readiness and client needs and then use their learnings to create a training and integration plan for their organization.

Through an online survey and in-person listening sessions with staff and clients, Wayne Metro learned more about their staff’s knowledge, behaviors and attitudes toward financial matters, client financial security needs, and their internal capacity needs to integrate financial coaching throughout their programs and services.

Assessment of Wayne Metro Staff and Clients

Key takeaways from the staff survey and in-person listening sessions included: -Staff members understood their clients’ financial challenges and were committed to helping clients build financial security.

-Staff members already discussed financial issues with clients and helped them access financial resources, but they want more knowledge, resources and skills to improve their confidence and ability to help clients address financial issues. Specifically, staff want a deeper understanding of financial topics and coaching skills they could use to help staff change their attitudes about money, make informed decisions about long-term financial products and establish behaviors that help them work toward financial goals.

-Staff responsibilities vary broadly by program, so a multi-tiered training approach would help ensure that staff receive the specific training and resources they need.

-Staff members want training on managing their own personal finances, but a large number shared that they did not want to discuss these topics with their peers and instead prefer online training options that they could complete at their own pace.

In summary, staff want a deeper understanding of financial topics and coaching skills they could use to help change their attitudes about money, make informed decisions about long-term financial products, and establish behaviors that help them work toward financial goals.

Financial Coaching Training Plan

A&O Network and Wayne Metro staff used this information from staff and clients to develop the multi-tiered financial coaching training plan depicted in the image on the right. Instead of providing extensive financial coaching training to all staff, Wayne Metro identified the key types of information and skills that different groups of staff need. Financial coaches were the only staff who needed financial coaching expertise, and they wanted a training that offered credentials. Program managers only needed an understanding of the basics of financial empowerment since they aren’t working directly with clients, and they wanted personal finance information they could use in their daily lives. Direct service providers needed basic financial coaching skills they could use in interactions with clients along with a baseline of financial empowerment information, and they also wanted information they could use to manage their own finances.

Financial Coaching Training Resources

A&O Network and Wayne Metro staff identified the following resources for providing this training:

Financial coaching: A list of training providers is available in Financial Coaching Training Curricula: Field Inventory and Summary Brief by the Center for Financial Security. JPMorgan Chase & Co. offered scholarships for 16 Wayne Metro staff to attend the NeighborWorks financial coaching training in Detroit. After the training, one of the housing counselors who work with homeless youth was really excited about incorporating what she learned into her work. She said that now she is less focused on numbers and more focused on each person’s goals and how to meet them. Wayne Metro is also working with local partners to figure out how to bring the Central New Mexico Community College financial coaching training program to Detroit so more of their staff can be trained.

Basics of financial empowerment: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides trainings on their financial empowerment toolkit for social services staff, Your Money, Your Goals (YMYG). Two Wayne Metro staff attended the day-long training on YMYG before CFED’s Assets Learning Conference, and 12 additional staff members attended a two-hour online webinar.

Personal financial management: Free curricula options Wayne Metro considered include Money Smart by the FDIC, Hands on Banking by Wells Fargo and Better Money Habits by Bank of America, among others. A local FDIC partner conducted a train-the-trainer on the Money Smart curriculum for 24 Wayne Metro staff, including financial coaches and staff who are new to financial capability services. Wayne Metro reported that this training helped give all staff a similar language to use when talking about financial capability.

Ongoing support: In addition to trainings, Wayne Metro staff expressed an interest in more opportunities to share resources and discuss challenges with peers in their program and in other programs across the organization. Wayne Metro plans to achieve this through cross-program meetings and an internal listerv.

Wayne Metro continues to explore opportunities to build the capacity of their staff to provide financial coaching. They are also focused on making connections between departments and staff more formalized so that staff can work together to help low-income members of their community achieve financial security.

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Wayne Metro Tax Program: There Is Still Time!!

Posted by mlulion on 04/01/2015

By Elena Garton

THERE IS STILL TIME!!!

If you have not had your taxes done yet there is still time! Come to any of the Wayne Metro Tax Sites to have your taxes completed by our quality staff and volunteers! Visit the Tax Program page on the Wayne Metro website for a full list of locations.

AWESOME CREDITS YOU MAY QUALIFY FOR!

Tax credits are beautiful things. They can reduce the amount you owe, or they can increase the refund you are receiving. That is what you call a win-win! All credits have qualifying guidelines you must meet before it is applied to your taxes.

Below are a few common credits with a brief description, if any of them potentially apply to you be sure to look into it (or have your tax preparer do it) and see if you qualify!

Federal:

  1. Earned Income Tax Credit - This credit helps you keep more of what you have earned. You must have earned income and file a return. Even if you do not owe or are not required to file, you may have the opportunity to get a little something back.

  2. Child and Dependent Care Credit - If you have a qualifying child or dependent that you had to pay child care expenses for so that you could work, this credit is for you! Also if you have a dependent that is incapable of self-care, the expenses you paid for them qualifies as well.

  3. Child Tax Credit - Do you have a qualifying child? This credit can be claimed in addition to the Child and Dependent Care expenses.

  4. Retirement Savings Contributions Credit - Contributing to your
    retirement has benefits you can enjoy before you actually retire with this credit!

  5. Credit for the Elderly and the Disabled - This credit is specifically designed for those over 65 with nontaxable income such as Social Security, annuities, and disability.

  6. Education Credits - There are two main education credits: A. American Opportunity Credit - This is applied to the first four years of post-secondary education and qualified education expenses. B. Lifetime Learning Credit - This covers a fuller range of education that is pursued for undergraduate, graduate, or professional degrees and even courses to further job skills.

Michigan

  1. Home Heating Credit - This credit was created to help support heating costs. It can be applied for independently and does not have to be done through the state return.

  2. Homestead Property Tax Credit - This applies to both renters and home owners, it helps offset property taxes you pay throughout the year.

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Why CFED Believes in Financial Capability for All

Posted by mlulion on 04/01/2015

By Katie Griffin

Here at CFED, we have a profound belief in the human spirit. It’s written in our vision: “Given a reasonable opportunity, CFED believes every family can save, build assets and create a more prosperous future for themselves and their children.” A crucial ingredient in achieving this vision is providing opportunities for families to build financial capability, defined as having financial knowledge, practicing financial skills and accessing financial products. These strategies provide on-ramps for families to get on the path toward saving and building assets.

For families with low incomes and few or no assets, there is little room for error. By working together with families to make good financial decisions easier, financial capability practitioners are setting families on a path to financial security in the long-term. Here’s what that looks like in practice:

The moment when you’re about to make a financial decision is the single most important time to have information, advice and financial products in front of you. Let’s say your neighbor is struggling to pay the bills this month and is making a decision about whether to let the electric bill slide, pay a small amount towards all the bills or head to the payday loan shop down the street to get a lump sum that will help her get out from under the stress of paying bills that month. What information does she have about all of her options? Who does she trust to talk over this decision with? Are there other, better products that could help her, and does she know about them? The ability for service providers to intervene in that moment—with a better product for her needs and/or with trusted advice that she is more likely to follow—is financial capability at work.

Every time you make a financial decision, it’s practice for the next one and the one after that. Exercising knowledge to make decisions is what turns knowledge into skills and skills into habits over time. If your neighbor gets some trusted advice and taps into a better financial product than a payday loan to keep her lights on, it will influence the way she decides next month how to handle her bills. She may know more about other options, or she may have built trust in whomever guided her to that decision. If it went well, she has gained confidence in her own ability to make good financial choices. She is now more likely to use that knowledge the next time she needs to make a financial decision, such as what to do with a financial windfall at tax time. When she is less stressed about paying bills, she has more bandwidth to think about the future and may return to that trusted advisor to plan for emergency savings or a downpayment for a home. These financial capabilities she is building will take her ever closer to saving and asset ownership—and build her own confidence in her ability to get there on her own.

When you build financial capability over time, you experience financial well-being. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently released their definition of financial well-being, which shows us that this concept of financial wellness is very subjective. How you feel about the state of your finances, your ability to make good financial choices (regardless of actual income level or dollars in a savings account) and your capacity to absorb a financial shock are all integral to achieving financial well-being. As we think about financial well-being in these more subjective terms and apply the concept to our work, we believe more people will see financial capability strategies as a key stepping stone to financial well-being.

In order for you to build financial capability over time, advice and products need to be available wherever you are making decisions. From early childhood through old age, people make financial decisions. Parents must choose whether and how to start financial habits with their children very early on. Students must pay for postsecondary education. As youth move out of from their parents’ homes and start households of their own, they must learn that credit scores matter and rent needs to be paid on time every month. Older adults must learn to navigate fixed incomes, and some will even find themselves parenting again when grandchildren come back into their lives. All of these and more are financial decision-making moments where we can embed conversations and products that help people make better choices. Trusted advice and access to financial products need to be embedded in schools, in workplaces, in communities and at pivotal moments in people’s lives, such as leaving home for the first time, renting a new apartment, getting a new job, having a child, paying taxes or even seeing a new health care provider. We are beginning to see the power this can have—to have an integrated, tightly woven network of ways to meet people where they are.

What are the strategies we see organizations deploying? And how do we know which strategy to use when? Tomorrow, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and CFED are launching an amazing resource for the field, Building Financial Capability: A Planning Guide for Integrated Services. It outlines ten key financial capability strategies, such as financial coaching and counseling, credit building, and asset ownership. It also helps organizations determine which services to deploy to their clients, how and when.

Ultimately, deploying these strategies at the right time and in the right place will enable people to build habits that will lead to a more prosperous future for themselves and their families. Over the month of April, National Financial Capability Month, we’ll be introducing a range of resources, ideas, examples, data and tools from the field that will highlight these concepts. We look forward to engaging with all of you in this dialogue.

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Volunteer Tax Preparers Offer Valuable Service

Posted by cspohrer on 04/01/2015

Tags: VITA, CAPSAW, Virginia

Written by Emily Cox, community engagement coordinator at Community Action Partnership of Staunton, Augusta and Waynesboro (CAPSAW) Valley VITA. She recently wrote this piece for the Staunton Virginia NewsLeader.com

A typical Tuesday evening in March at Stuarts Draft High School's media center is deceptively quiet and calm. But the work of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) is already well underway.

With handfuls of financial documents clients come – the young, the elderly, the immigrant family with a young son as a translator, the couple with a child or two in tow – all relieved to find someone who can help them untangle their tax return and get them the best refund possible through the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits. And the best part is that this service is completely free to households earning less than $53,000 in 2014.

This has been a record setting season for Valley VITA, now in its fifth year of providing free preparation of federal and state tax returns to households making less than $53,000 a year. The program was created specifically to help individuals and families claim their Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits.

Locals who help have many different reasons for volunteering. Some are retirees with time on their hands who want to give back to the community. Some are Mary Baldwin students, earning credit for a business course taught by Professor Janet Ewing.

Winter weather has made it difficult to keep sites open as scheduled, but volunteers and clients have taken it all in stride, rearranging appointments as necessary to accommodate closures and clients' busy schedules. Even with site closures, as of early last week, over 300 hours in volunteer time have been donated resulting in the filing of 397 Federal returns, saving clients $79,400 in tax preparation fees and generating anticipated federal refunds of over $534,000.

Those refunds come back to the local economy in the form of rent and bill payments and other spending by clients. Many clients use their refunds to pay medical bills, save for college, and a few even report they will use the money to start a new business.

This season has been different from past years due to the Affordable Care Act. ACA regulations have extended the amount of time it takes volunteers to prepare a return, with much of this time spent educating taxpayers on what the ACA means for them. Recent reports of tax preparer fraud surrounding the ACA highlight the importance of a service like Valley VITA, where volunteers are trained by the IRS and sign a code of ethics before being certified to work with clients.

This year, advocates from Enroll Virginia are joining forces with VITA to offer clients information about the Healthcare Marketplace and options for those who may fall into the gap between Medicaid and the Marketplace. At each of the four VITA sites, a representative from Enroll Virginia is available to counsel taxpayers on what may be best for them in securing health care coverage.

With so many benefits and resources available to clients, Valley VITA continues to be a vital service in helping boost the economic security of the community. For more information, call 221-1654 or visit Valley VITA on Facebook.

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Apps to help you save!

Posted by jware on 03/27/2015

Tags: apps, savings apps, savings tools

"Rounding up savings"

By Joseph Pisani

Appeared in the Dallas Morning News 3/27/15

Published: 26 March 2015 07:39 PM Updated: 26 March 2015 07:39 PM

NEW YORK — Sit back, relax, and save some money. Two mobile services are making it easier to build your savings without giving it much thought.

Acorns and Digit automatically transfer small amounts from your checking account to a savings or investment account. They’re an option for consumers to do what financial planners have advised for years: Build your savings through automatic transfers.

I tried both Acorns and Digit for about two weeks and found they are easy to use and have the potential to build up some significant savings over time.

Of course, it’s not difficult to set up a weekly or monthly transfer to an online savings account. But both services are targeting the under-35 crowd, who are less likely to save on their own.

Acorns has grown to about 250,000 active users since its August launch, the company says. Digit, which launched in February, declined to say how many users it has but expects them to save a collective $1 million in March.

Here’s how they work:

ACORNS: To use Acorns, individuals link their debit or credit cards to an app that automatically rounds up every purchase to the nearest dollar. The amount is invested in a portfolio of stocks and bonds.

Rounding up purchases can add up quickly, especially if you mainly use cards instead of cash, like I do. A $26.34 supermarket run, for example, resulted in 66 cents being moved into my Acorns account. In two days, Acorns saved me $7.30. The average user saves about $55 a month from roundups, says co-founder Jeff Cruttenden. Users can also manually transfer cash or set up recurring deposits.

The savings are invested in exchange-traded funds, which are a basket of stocks or bonds that trade on the stock market. Every portfolio is made up of six ETFs that offer a range of investment options, from conservative to aggressive. Accounts are insured by the Securities Investor Protection Corp.

The app has graphs that enable you to see how much money you can accumulate. For example, a monthly deposit of $55 into an aggressive portfolio can grow to $10,438 in 10 years.

Acorns charges $1 a month for accounts under $5,000. For accounts over that amount, it charges 0.25 percent a year, which comes to about $2.08 a month for a balance of $10,000. There are no fees for withdrawing money and no minimums.

DIGIT: The best part about Digit is its ability to calculate how much to save from day to day. After connecting a checking account to Digit, its algorithm analyzes account activity to determine how much you typically earn and spend. Based on its findings, it periodically transfers small amounts into a Digit account.

My first savings deposit was for $1.57. Not much, but it was a start. Over two weeks, Digit saved me a total of $3.61. I don’t keep much money in my checking account, so that explains the particularly small amount. For the average Digit user, deposits are about $18 every two to three days, says founder Ethan Bloch. That can add up to more than $2,000 a year.

Digit guarantees its transfers won’t cause payments to bounce. If that happens, it will pay overdraft fees. The automated withdrawals can be turned off at any time, and cash can be manually transferred to the Digit account.

Digit requires you to sign up on its website, digit.co, and then all banking is done through text message. I’m used to banking within apps, but I found texting to be simpler. There’s a list of commands, like “savings” to see your balance or “withdraw” to make a withdrawal. If you plan to try Digit, make sure you have unlimited texting to avoid extra wireless charges.

Digit doesn’t charge any fees, and transfers are quick; withdrawn amounts hit my account the next day.

The downside is that users will miss out on earning interest. Digit places its users’ deposits in accounts with Wells Fargo and BofI Federal Bank, and makes money from the interest on those accounts. Like any bank, the accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

BOTTOM LINE: Acorns is better for people who want to start investing in the stock market but don’t have the cash to open an account at a big investment bank or want to avoid high fees. Digit is best for those who are not saving enough and need help figuring out how much they can afford to save.

Joseph Pisani,

The Associated Press

http://www.dallasnews.com/business/personal-finance/headlines/20150326-saving-made-simple-services-that-stash-cash-automatically.ece

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Making Work Pay for Working Families in the Ocean State

Posted by rflum on 03/26/2015

Greetings from the Ocean State! This year, the Economic Progress Institute is partnering with local organizations across the state to increase Rhode Island's Earned Income Tax Credit.

Last year, lawmakers made two significant changes to programs that provide targeted tax relief to low-income Rhode Islanders. First, they eliminated property tax relief for low-income renters and homeowners who are not elderly or disabled, saving the state $8 million. At the same time, the state’s earned income tax credit – which had been only partially refundable – was reduced from 25 percent to 10 percent of the federal credit – but made fully refundable. This would cost the state an additional $8 million. There were winners and losers as a result of these changes.

The Economic Progress Institute is leading a campaign this year to increase the EITC from 10 to 20 percent of the federal credit. Over 80,000 filers in Rhode Island benefited from the EITC in Tax Year 2012, returning over 175 million dollars to the state from their federal returns. This money goes right back into the local economy, bringing more customers to local businesses like mechanic shops, day care centers, and corner stores.

Workers who receive the EITC also contribute to Rhode Island's economy by paying more than their fair share of taxes. In fact, low-income Rhode Islander's pay nearly twice as much of their income towards taxes as the wealthiest Rhode Islanders. The Ocean State now has the 5th highest taxes on low-income households in the nation according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Governor Gina Raimondo has included in her budget an increase to Rhode Island's EITC raising the current 10 percent credit to 15 percent over the next two years. Other bills have also been introduced to increase the EITC to 20 percent in the house and the senate (H5513/S163).

In order to keep the EITC front and center in the minds of legislators, we have implemented a postcard campaign asking Rhode Islanders to petition their local Representatives and Senators to increase Rhode Island's Earned Income Tax Credit.

The reception has been amazing! Over 1,000 cards have already been sent to lawmakers, urging them to help give working families a hand up.

Click here to learn more about how an increased state EITC would help make work pay for Rhode Island's working families.

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UNITED WAY: Putting hope on the line with 2-1-1

Posted by slopez on 03/26/2015

A young father of two desperately needed a new pair of work boots to keep his construction job. Unsure of how he was going to pay for them, he called the 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE. He was connected with a United Way THRIVE specialist and ultimately, the help he received went beyond boots and put his feet on the path to a brighter future. He was provided resources to help him go back to school, get his GED and land a welding job that would lead to greater financial stability for his family.

A strong economy and robust employment market made 2014 a good year for many Houstonians, but even in good times, many people in our community still struggle. With so many needs to be met, the 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE provides life-changing services to support individuals and families in good times and bad.

In 2014, United Way of Greater Houston’s 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE answered more than 940,000 calls from our neighbors looking for help. 2-1-1 is a gateway to help for the Houston area, connecting callers to the human services safety net that United Way makes strong. Daily, we respond to callers looking for assistance with food, rent, bills, medical prescriptions and legal aide. Last year, nearly 17,000 calls were answered from military veterans looking for employment assistance, counseling and medical assistance. And when disaster strikes, such as a hurricane, flood or other natural disaster, 2-1-1 is the central resource line for residents in affected areas.

Even though 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE handles the largest volume of helpline calls in the nation, a large number of people in our community still don't know about the service or what it does to change lives for the better. If you heard from neighbors like Rhonda, the shut-in senior citizen who now has transportation to her doctor's appointments and a hot meal delivered to her home by a smiling face, you would think about 2-1-1 in a whole new light. With call volume essentially quadrupling in less than a decade, we needed a new facility to ensure that 2-1-1 is able to keep up with the growing needs in our community. Thanks to the generosity of Houston philanthropists Penny and Paul Loyd, United Way recently built a state-of-the-art 2-1-1 facility with more space to staff HELPLINE specialists during peak times and the ability to, within hours, add even more capacity in times of disaster. The new facility means that your 2-1-1 HELPLINE is now positioned to serve community needs now and in the future.

We urge you to take a moment and think about a time in your life when you or someone you know has struggled. The power of a calming human voice offering help is profoundly impactful in finding hope and taking action. Not only do our trained 2-1-1 specialists help with our callers’ immediate needs, they also work to treat the root of the problem through initiatives like United Way THRIVE, which helps families achieve financial stability, and our veteran’s initiative.

Help us raise awareness for this vital community resource. If you encounter someone who needs help, whether at work, school or in your neighborhood, encourage them to call 2-1-1. If you are able to join us in supporting United Way in this valuable and community-shaping work, we welcome you. If you are already among the United Way donors and supporters who make 2-1-1 possible, there are nearly a million reasons why you deserve the heartiest thanks.

Scott McLean is president of Zion Bancorporation and a member of the United Way board of directors. He and wife, Anna, are United Way volunteer leaders.

Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 11:33 pm on YourHoustonNews.com By Scott and Anna McClean

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Vermont's Scorecard Results

Posted by mniebling on 03/25/2015

Tags: Vermont, Scorecard

The figures just came in and we’ve got good news and bad news.
First the Good News: Every year Cfed-the Corporation for Enterprise Development-releases data on their Assets and Opportunity Scorecard. The data use 135 measures to reflect the financial well-being of Americans and breaks the data down by state to show how states compare to one another and to report on the policies states are adopting to help improve the financial outlook for their citizens. Vermont ranks #2 in overall measurement of data regarding income, employment, health care, education, and housing. Hurray for the Green Mountain State!
The bad news is that it’s all relative to the rest of the country. According to the scorecard, millions of Americans are not benefiting from the economic recovery, and there continues to be significant disparities between the poor and the wealthy. In Vermont, we still have 12.6% of our population living below the federal poverty threshold, 26.7% are asset poor, meaning they don’t have emergency money if a crisis hits, such as a job loss, a health problem or a car repair, and nearly 46% of Vermonters have sub-prime credit, making affordable loans out of reach for many working families. The average credit card debt for Vermonters is $9,822, right around the national average. Look around you—these are your neighbors, and your friends--the grocery store associate, the car wash attendant, the school cook who feeds your kids, and the single mom LNA who takes care of Grandma—in short, these are the working poor of Vermont. We can celebrate that Vermont ranks in the top 10 of states that have adopted policies to help alleviate the effects of poverty. These include policies like eliminating the asset tests for LIHEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance Program), and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), prohibiting Payday lending practices, offering a state EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) in addition to the federal EITC, and other consumer protection policies that protect people’s assets and help them overcome financial hardship. But there’s more policy work that can be done to help low-income Vermonters. For example, Vermont still has an asset limit requirement for folks who are applying for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or Reach Up, as it’s called in Vermont. This means that folks who receive a tax refund must “spend down” the money rather than put it in a savings account if they want to maintain their Reach Up benefits. But an empty savings account means no cash on hand for the car repair to help them get to work, or funds to pay for the unexpected furnace repair bill. Eliminating the asset limitation for Reach Up makes sense because having a safety net such as an emergency savings account is exactly what someone needs to help them move off of public assistance.
Our mission at Capstone Community Action is to provide comprehensive service to help people achieve economic well-being with dignity and develop partnerships to strengthen Vermont communities. Our commitment is to alleviate the suffering caused by poverty, to work with individuals and families to move out of poverty, and to advocate for economic justice for all Vermonters. Despite Vermont’s #2 ranking overall on the 2015 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, there’s still more work to be accomplished to help all Vermonters achieve economic prosperity.

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Vermont Wins!

Posted by mniebling on 03/25/2015

Tags: USDA, SNAP, Vermont, Jobs

Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont acknowledging an award of nearly 9 million dollars in federal grants for Vermont and its community partners to support Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients with job training and job placement. Vermont is one of only 10 states in the nation (and the only state in the northeast) to receive this prestigious grant to help people move off of public assistance and into the workforce. ‪#‎VTaction

https://www.facebook.com/VTCommunityAction?fref=ts

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Tax Time

Posted by mniebling on 03/25/2015

Tags: tax, VITA, Vermont

By now your mailbox should be containing envelopes with the special note, “important tax documents enclosed” and you’re either anxiously awaiting a possible refund, or dreading the day you have to sit down and deal with a potential payment to Uncle Sam. The good news is that if you’re one of the millions of American families whose income is $53,000 or less, you can avoid the stress and have your taxes prepared for free at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site near you. If you are eligible for a refund, you will receive it within 5-7 business days of filing so there’s no need to pay a professional tax preparer who will not only charge you to file but may charge an additional fee to get you your refund only a few days sooner. All across the country, VITA sites in all the states are gearing up for tax season and Vermont is no exception. Central Vermont has a number of sights open in the evenings, during the day and on Saturdays with dedicated IRS volunteers who can provide free basic tax preparation for you and your family. Volunteers are trained to make sure that you get the credits and rebates you may be eligible for such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit, Education Credits, Renters Rebate and more. If you’re concerned about the Affordable Care Act and how that might impact your filing, VITA volunteers will help you navigate those details, too.
VITA tax sites open February 9th in central Vermont with our main location here at Capstone Community Action in Barre. For locations and times, and for a list of what to bring with you (and remember, if you’re married filing jointly you with BOTH need to be present), visit Capstone’s tax preparation webpage at http://www.capstonevt.org/community-economic-development/tax-preparation-program

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