Tax season is a heavy lift for many residents in the National Capital Area, but year after year families lose thousands of dollars in unclaimed benefits. To maximize the number of families in our region saving money during tax season, United Way of the National Capital Area is convening our Financial Empowerment Centers and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance partners to provide our community with free tax preparation services and guidance on tax credit options.
We recently spoke with Annie Smith, a participant in last year’s VITA’s free tax preparation service. Prior to coming to a VITA location, Annie’s typical tax refund was approximately $900 after paying several hundred dollars for tax preparation services. Much to her surprise, through the free tax service offered at her VITA site, Annie received $13,000 as a refund.
In 2018, over 50,000 eligible workers in the District saved over $117 Million dollars from the Earned Income Tax Credit. Despite the huge gains of those who participated, only 75% of EITC eligible candidates in the national capital area actually applied for the credit on their refunds. Tax refunds as a result of the EITC has proven instrumental in lifting people out of poverty, going so far as empowering them to put their children through school, get ahead on rent payments, or even become home owners. While the amount someone may receive varies on marital status and the number of dependents claimed, families making under $55,000 a year can be refunded up to $6,400 from the EITC alone.
United Way NCA is bringing more visibility and awareness to capital area EITC candidates by making free, high-quality tax preparation services available through any of its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites. Those making under $60,000 a year can file their taxes for free and are guided through applying for all qualifying credits.
The path to ensuring financial stability for the National Capital region isn’t one ventured alone, it’s a journey we’re making United. If you’re not eligible for the credit, but you know someone who is, please share our list of sites and spread the word. To learn more about opportunities to give or volunteer in one of our financial stability programs, please visit unitedwaynca.org.