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United Way Launches Efforts to Bring Tax Refunds to More Nashville FamiliesFebruary 02, 2011
WITH $27 MILLION UNCLAIMED BY ‘WORKING POOR’ HERE, UNITED WAY LAUNCHES EFFORT TO BRING TAX REFUNDS TO MORE NASHVILLE FAMILIES
Congressman joins United Way to call attention to free tax preparation for low-income families.
NASHVILLE, TN [February 2, 2011] – With an estimated $27 million in tax credits left unclaimed by Nashvillians each year, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville and Congressman Jim Cooper today officially launched a dozen locations offering free tax preparation service for Davidson County low- and moderate-income working families.
Ten standing sites, one mobile site, and a “roving site” are available this tax season across the community (See attached list of locations and hours). Rep. Cooper and United Way officials toured tax sites at Sam Levy Homes in East Nashville and Woodbine Community Organization in South Nashville to thank volunteers and encourage Nashvillians to take advantage of the program.
Not only will the free tax assistance help taxpayers save hundreds of dollars in tax preparation fees and “rapid refund” loans, it will also provide an opportunity for them to find out if they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
The IRS estimates each year 20-25% of those eligible for the EITC do not claim it, or even know about it. United Way believes this amounts to slightly more than $27 million left unclaimed in Davidson County.
“United Way is proud to partner with the IRS and the Nashville Alliance for Financial Independence (NAFI) to help working families move closer to financial stability. The impact of these sites grows each year and with the flood event in 2010, maximizing every refund is more important than ever to working Nashvillians,” said Eric Dewey, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville President and CEO.
Congressman Cooper said the program is good for working Nashvillians and for the local community. “Thousands of eligible families leave money on the table because they don’t know about the Earned Income Tax Credit,” said U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper. “Over 200 dedicated volunteers at Nashville’s VITA sites are working to change that. Every little bit helps, and these volunteers are providing a valuable service to our entire community.”
“This program represents a boost of more than $14 million to our local economy, but it could mean much more than that. Supporting these free tax prep sites is one key component of our work to help Nashville’s citizens achieve financial stability and making Nashville, as a whole, a better place to live,” Dewey said.
Results last year
• 7,534 total returns filed through United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites
• Accessed $14 million in total refunds for Davidson County families
Day-to-day management of the sites is provided by a number of different organizations, including churches, businesses, schools, nonprofits and government. Services at the sites are provided by more than 200 IRS-trained and certified volunteers.
How VITA/EITC helps filers get ahead
Research shows that many families receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit use it to pay for basic necessities like housing, utilities, food and major household appliances. The research also suggests that some families use their refund to make purchases or investments that can help them maintain their jobs and their homes or to improve their employability so they have a better chance of moving into the middle class. For example, a significant share of families use part of their EITC to repair or replace a car needed to get to work, to make essential-but-costly repairs to a home, or to pay for more education or job training. For many families and individuals it may be the only time all year they have the funds to start a saving account and can begin building assets.
How to find a VITA site
To find a free tax prep site, filers should call United Way 2-1-1, Middle Tennessee’s referral help line. Callers will be connected to a real person who can provide addresses and hours for sites most convenient to them, as well as detailed information about what documents to bring.
What’s new at VITA sites this year
• More people could qualify for EITC and free tax preparation than ever before; IRS has raised the eligibility threshold for EITC to $49,000 or less. (It was $42,000 in previous years.)
• 12 VITA sites are available across Davidson County including public, employer-based and mobile sites.
• Free, do-it-yourself, online filing is available for eligible filers with incomes of $58,000 or less at www.myfreetaxes.com/nashville.
• Asset coaches help educate filers about additional financial resources.
• Manna-Food Security Partners, a Nashville-based food and anti-hunger advocacy organization, will be at three of the VITA sites to distribute food stamp information, pre-screen individuals and assist with the application process.
Other resources returning to VITA sites this year
• “Second Chance” bank accounts – offered to qualified filers so they can avoid check cashing and money order fees
• My Money Plan, which provide free one-on-one budgeting session are available.
About United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. Founded in 1922, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville was originally called the Community Chest. Today, the organization — through partnerships with government, education, health and human services, donors, and business leaders — does much more than raise and distribute funds to agencies. As a catalyst for proactive, lasting and measurable community change, United Way is focused on the building blocks for a better life: education, financial stability, health and neighborhoods.
About Nashville Alliance for Financial Independence. Nashville Alliance for Financial Independence (NAFI) is an initiative of United Way of Metropolitan Nashville that helps working individuals and families build assets that will lead to long-lasting financial independence. NAFI is sponsored by: Blevins, Inc., Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS), Wal-Mart Foundation, Fifth Third Foundation, Bank of America, Regions Bank, Tyson Foods, SunTrust Bank, U.S. Bank, Bank of Nashville, US Community Credit Union, National Association of Black Accountants, Inc. Nashville Chapter, First State Bank, Waddell & Reed, Inc., and United Way of Metropolitan Nashville.