This is the Most Important Tax Year in Helping Reduce Economic Disparities

Mar 23, 2021

by United Way NCA

Many DMV Residents Have Lost Income Recently Due to the Pandemic; Qualifying Residents Can Capitalize on EITC to Receive Larger Tax Refunds

Washington, DC (March 23, 2021)For many across the country, tax season is a flurry of confusion and anxiety. However, in a year unlike any other, where many individuals have remained unemployed or underemployed, a sizeable tax return can go a long way in resolving debt, feeding the family or replenishing savings for the remainder of the pandemic. And, because taxes can be riddled with complexities, many low-wage workers choose not to file their taxes at all.  

This was the case for Marjorie Ray, a 25-year-old resident of Prince George’s County. Ray worked as a night-shift janitorial staffer for a local business. When the pandemic forced businesses to close their doors, her hours were cut. Because Ray didn’t earn enough to file, she never did. When the economic income payments from the stimulus agreements passed in Congress, she was left out. However, upon learning that she could receive her stimulus payments via submission of a tax return, Ray ventured to do what so many other low-income earners will this year: file their tax returns for the first time.  

Accessibility and tax filing do not always go hand in hand. Some tax processors charge hundreds of dollars for a return that takes minutes to file. That’s why United Way of the National Capital Area has partnered with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) partners across the DMV to promote free tax-preparation services for low-income earners. Individuals making less than $57,000 a year qualify to get their taxes done at no charge during the 2021 tax filing season (which officially ends May 17, 2021).  

For Ray, easily accessing a VITA site made the difference of over $3,000. Because Ray made under $57,000 a year, she was able to access high-quality tax preparation for free. Not only did this allow Ray to get her stimulus payments, but she also got back $1,400 from a series of tax deductions, credits and expenses.  

Ray’s story is not unique to the hundreds of thousands who will file their taxes this year for the first time. In one of the most consequential tax years in modern history, it’s important that we’re helping everyone in our community get the most back when they file. Credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) can help people like Ray get back thousands of dollars every year—enough money to lift them out of poverty.  

And without the support of the United Way of the National Capital Areas VITA locations, we wouldnt be able to reach as many people as we do. Learn more about our VITA program here, as well as ways you can get more returns on your taxes this year.   

About United Way of the National Capital Area

United Way of the National Capital Area fights for the health, education and economic opportunity of every person in the National Capital Area community. United Way NCA has been improving lives by creating measurable impact in the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties for more than 45 years. In 2020, United Way NCA was among 384 organizations across the United States to receive a generous transformational investment from novelist and venture philanthropist, MacKenzie Scott. For more information about United Way of the National Capital Area, visit

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