Tax Time Troubles

Financial hardships can be severe and sudden. Just ask Debra, a 63 year-old Chesterfield County resident who has been unable to work since a major car accident left her on permanent disability in 2000.

Debra also suffers from a medical condition that requires intense treatment two or three times a week. Her challenging situation got even tougher last year, when her husband lost his job of 25 years. He found new positions, but none in his field and none that matched his old salary. After depleting their savings, Debra and her husband were left with no choice but to file for bankruptcy.

“We were in a really dire financial situation. We had to file for bankruptcy and that was really hard. We’re not 30 years old anymore. It’s not like we could just start over.”

Debra said the stress of their financial situation weighed heavily on her mind every day.

“It is a very stressful situation to be in,” said Debra. “My husband and I have always been very independent and productive. I had a good paying job. My husband was successful and made six figures for many years. To suddenly have all of that disappear when you are used to being self-sufficient is a major, major stress. It can cause a lot of depression, a high degree of worry and it takes a lot of strength to get through it.”

Tax season was always a particularly difficult time for Debra because her complex medical bills required professional tax help, which cost hundreds of dollars Debra and her husband could not afford. After learning about United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program through her social worker, Debra was able to have her taxes prepared for free by United Way’s team of IRS-certified volunteers.

United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers free tax preparation for families and individuals with income of $55,000 or less. The average household income of filers that use this program is $22,003.

A team of IRS-certified volunteers works with filers to prepare accurate tax returns and deliver the highest possible refund. This program helps people avoid unclaimed tax credits and save money on fees for tax preparation services and refund anticipation loans.

“The volunteer who prepared my taxes went out of his way to find as many deductions as possible. He spent a lot of time asking questions and making sure everything was accurate. I actually felt more secure about that process than I did with professional accountants.”

Learn more about United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program here.

Saving Money for Working Families

United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program helps eligible taxpayers take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a tax-saving benefit for working families with low to moderate income.

An estimated 20% of eligible households do not claim this benefit. United Way makes sure eligible families receive this important tax credit and maximize their refund.

The Impact (2020 tax year)

  • 2,067 accepted tax returns
  • $2.8 million in tax refunds
  • $532,459 for the Earned Income Tax Credit Refunds
  • $516,750 saved in tax preparation fees