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Self-Sufficiency: Telling Stories through Numbers

The numbers are in. Our Thomas Jefferson Area Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) coalition prepared 1,880 tax returns at no charge for local low to middle income residents of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties.

The numbers tell us that the average refund was $1,491 and the average Earned Income Tax Credit (for those who qualified) was $1,742. Similarly, the average Child Care Credit was $784.

EITC_GroceryBag (color)The average income for those we helped was $19,341. Think of the impact that receiving those kinds of refunds and credits can have on someone with that sort of income. You could buy new tires for your car. Pay off a medical debt. Visit your mother in another state. Start a savings account.

And the numbers go on. Our coalition volunteers saved these 1,880 people a total of $366,200 in tax preparation fees. We had more than 100 volunteers, most of them UVA students and law students. The total dollar value of credits for earned income, child care and education totaled $1,605,879. The most returns (649) were prepared at the site at the University of Virginia’s Human Resources department. The United Way’s office prepared the second highest number of returns (216). University of Virginia Community Credit Union employees prepared returns in their branches in Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties, plus their downtown Charlottesville branch, for a total of 367 returns.

The numbers also tell us that the total impact of our coalition’s efforts this year, including refunds, credits and saved fees, was $3,453,535.

But what the numbers do not tell us are the stories about the people whose lives were vastly improved by this boost to their bank accounts. Here at the United Way office, a staff member prepared a return for a woman who was a recent immigrant from Eastern Europe and had a middle school age daughter. She could not believe that she would actually be getting money back from the earned income tax credit, and even asked to review the return, in case we had made a mistake. Once she received her tax credit, she returned to our office to show us pictures of the new furniture she was able to buy: new beds and mattresses for her and her daughter. She said “Thanks to you, we will not sleep on the floor any more.”

One thousand, eight hundred and eighty  tax returns prepared. There are a lot more stories to be told.

 

Posted by: Kim Connolly

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