United Way Of The National Capital Area Kicks Off Tax Season By Celebrating “EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) Awareness Day”

Jan 27, 2023

United Way NCA Financial Empowerment Centers Serve as VITA Sites Offering Free Tax Preparation to Households Earning $59,187or Less to Provide Equitable Financial Assistance

Washington, DC (January 27, 2023) – On January 27, United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA) is celebrating the official kick-off of the tax season with “EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) Awareness Day.” The organization is encouraging residents in the Washington region to maximize their tax refund possibilities by accessing free and virtual tax preparation services available for those with an annual income of $59,187 or less.

The free tax services are available through United Way NCA’s region-wide powerful network of Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs) in Prince George’s Community College, South County, Prince William, DC, and Montgomery County that offer financial coaching, small business counseling, workshops and more throughout the year. During the tax season, these five FECs are among the many VITA sites throughout the region with IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Programs that provide free tax preparation by IRS-qualified volunteers.

“Until we reach financial equity for all in the Washington region, your United Way NCA will continue to invest in IRS-trained professionals to help our residents receive free tax preparation services each year,” said Rosie Allen-Herring, President & CEO, United Way of the National Capital Area. “We believe everyone should have access to financial professionals with the know-how to maximize tax credits, receive the largest tax refund possible, and guide residents on the best ways to use those funds to pay off debt, invest in a home, or contribute to generational wealth that can transform the future of their families.”

United Way NCA is leading a regional coalition of partners working on this effort to provide free tax preparation services. Trained and qualified IRS tax professionals are available to work with individuals in the community to determine if they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and help them claim these tax credits, which can earn them a larger tax refund.

The EITC is one of the nation’s most effective anti-poverty programs. Over 20 million low to moderate-income Americans benefit from EITC during tax season every year. The EITC is a refundable tax credit available to qualifying lower-wage workers and their families.

Among states with a refundable EITC, the highest match rates are in the District of Columbia at 70 percent. “In past years, the amount of the DC Earned Income Tax Credit was 40 percent of the amount of the federal earned income tax credit, said Karima M. Woods, DISB Commissioner. “We are pleased that this percentage has been increased to 70 percent for tax year 2022. That means more money back in the pockets of DC residents. The Bowser Administration encourages eligible residents to file for the EITC, take advantage of free tax preparation services, and use direct deposit for their returns to avoid check cashing fees.”

For the 2022 tax year, Maryland workers younger than 25 and without children are eligible for Maryland EITC and are generally the only group eligible for the federal EITC. “As a VITA Tax preparer in Prince George’s County, I have seen how the Earned Income Credit (EIC) has helped many of our county residents including single family households and independent students to seniors,” said Victoria Saunders, Site Coordinator, Prince George’s Community College Financial Empowerment Center. “The EIC not only helps residents get refunds that can help them support their families, but it has helped many residents reduce their tax debt significantly.”

In Virginia (2018 tax year), over $983,000 was awarded back to those families who qualified for the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and over $2.3 million to those who qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). “Having free tax assistance services at our Center is an essential resource to the community, to help residents gain access to tax preparation services at no-cost to them,” said Seema Jain, Senior Vice President of Operations, The SkillSource Group, Inc. “At the Prince William Financial Empowerment Center, housed within the Virginia Career Works – Prince William Center, we strongly encourage eligible residents to take advantage of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and submit their taxes as soon as possible, so they can use any potential refunds they receive towards their financial goals.”

“EITC supports the imbalances of the tax system where individuals who earn significantly less than others receive a financial boost to support their households, and that’s important for advancing equity, as people of color, women, and immigrants are often overrepresented within the underpaid and low-wage sector,” added Allen-Herring. “However, the IRS estimates that 20% of tax filers don’t claim their EITC, which is why we partner with the IRS’ VITA program to ensure that our community members have access to qualified tax preparers who can ensure they have explored and applied for EITC credits.”

Tax preparation services are available virtually or in person (following COVID-19 safety protocols). Here’s what residents need to know when they receive help from a United Way NCA Financial Empowerment Center or VITA site located throughout the region for tax preparation services:

  • Services are free for tax filers with a household income of $59,187 or less.
  • To prepare their taxes, residents should have proof of earned income, a valid social security number, and a photo ID.
  • People with kids under 17 may be eligible to claim a tax credit of up to $2,000 per qualifying dependent when they file their 2022 tax returns in 2023. $1,500 of that credit may be refundable.

All of United Way NCA’s Financial Empowerment Centers (FEC) will be offering free tax services until April 18, 2023. A full list of FEC locations is located at https://unitedwaynca.org/financial-empowerment-center/locate-fecs/.

To learn more about EITC, community members are encouraged to view the United Way NCA’s Change Maker webinar “VITA/EITC Programs and Their Impact on Advancing Equity.” The Change Makers Education Series convenes thought leaders in conversations focused on trends in the National Capital Area and solutions that advance equity in the region. All available EITC/VITA resources can be found at https://unitedwaynca.org/changemakers/.

About United Way of the National Capital Area
United Way of the National Capital Area works to improve the health, education and economic opportunity of every person in the National Capital 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 UnitedWayNCA.org.