Our office has been hopping lately. The Thomas Jefferson Area Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Coalition is headquartered in our office, ably coordinated by our staff member, Pamela Frank.
Our Information and Referral Center's phone has been in constant use, with Martha Trujillo, our Community Services Coordinator, fielding phone calls and scheduling appointments for folks to have their taxes prepared for free. There are many member agencies in our local coalition and approximately 100 volunteers who have been certified by the IRS. Most notable are the students from the University of Virginia and the law school, plus the UVA Community Credit Union, which offers free tax preparation in its branches, especially those in our surrounding rural counties.
While our office may be crowded (since we are one of the tax sites) and our phones ringing constantly, it is a good feeling knowing that we have saved these families and individuals earning less than $50,000 a year a lot of money. Not only do they save the the tax preparation fees, but we help them to claim all the credits for which they are eligible. The IRS estimates that more than a quarter of the people who are eligible for the earned income tax credit do not claim it, and we aim to remedy that. In addition, we help people avoid the so called "instant refunds" which are in reality high interest, short-term loans. Folks who file their taxes through our nonprofit coalition can normally expect their refunds direct deposted into their bank acount within 7 to 10 days.
Pamela reported this morning that since mid January, the coalition has helped around 600 people with their taxes, and we are still barely into the season!
Why do we do this? It all relates to our impact area of Self-Sufficiency. We want to help working people keep their hard-earned dollars, and hopefully save their refunds to use to build a nest eggs or pay off bills. The coalition's motto is Earn it. Keep it. Save it. And that is what we hope they do.
Posted By: Kim Connolly
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