June 15, 2015
United Way and Bank of America Free Tax Preparation Partnership Nets $8.8 Million for Residents
BOSTON — United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley, in partnership with Bank of America, announced its 2015 free tax prep assistance program returned a total of $8.8 million to 4,975 working residents who are most in need.
The annual program provides low-income residents and families with opportunities for free tax prep assistance and help maximizing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other credits and refunds. With a $125,000 investment from The Bank of America Charitable Foundation to United Way to coordinate the program, millions of dollars that may otherwise have gone unclaimed were returned to people’s pockets and their local communities.
The free tax preparation services helped residents claim close to $3.8 million in Earned Income Tax Credits this year, a 24% increase over the $2.9 million claimed last year. The IRS estimates 23% of the Earned Income Tax Credits go unclaimed each tax season in Massachusetts. Based on last year’s information, this means approximately $166 million could go unclaimed this year by low-income working individuals. An expansion of the state Earned Income Tax Credit is currently under consideration by the Massachusetts State Legislature.
To help more eligible individuals claim these tax credits, which are often left unclaimed because people are unaware of their eligibility, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, in partnership with Bank of America, funded free tax preparation services at 11 locations in Quincy, Randolph, Weymouth, Lawrence, Chelsea, Revere and Boston. Community partners include Massachusetts Community Action Partners (MASSCAP), The Neighborhood Developers, Urban Edge, Lawrence CommunityWorks, Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, Quincy Community Action Programs and Neighborhood of Affordable Housing. Close to 200 volunteers gave over 8,478 hours of their time helping residents navigate tax filing.
“We invest in the VITA program with both financial and human capital. It puts money back into the pockets of hard-working residents, and our employee volunteers appreciate the opportunity to share their expertise by helping people navigate the tax system, access tax preparation services and secure the benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit, ” said Bob Gallery, Massachusetts president, Bank of America.
“Together, we can do more than any of us can alone,” said Michael K. Durkin, president at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “The combination of volunteers, community organizations who are best-positioned to reach eligible workers, and support from Bank of America make this a winning partnership for low-income families in our region. Returning $8.8 million to local residents is a great way to boost local economies and stabilize families by helping them to meet critical budget needs, climb out of debt, or save for the future.”
2015 free tax prep community locations and results are:
Urban Edge: 560 returns filed for $1,046,458 in refunds, including $374,926 in EITC refunds
Neighborhood of Affordable Housing: 86 returns filed for $105,777 in refunds, including $37,954 in EITC refunds
Greater Lawrence Community Action Council: 352 returns filed for $641,221 in refunds, including $332,984 in EITC refunds
Lawrence Community Works: 630 returns filed for $1,281,273 in refunds, including $468,043 in EITC refunds
The Neighborhood Developers: 1,053 returns filed for $2,026,451 in refunds, including $845,981 in EITC refunds
Quincy Community Action Programs Inc.: 606 returns filed for $933,555 in refunds, including $453,553 in EITC refunds
MASSCAP VITA SITES
Community Action, Inc.:302 returns filed for $423,980 in refunds, including $213,566 in EITC refunds
Community Action Programs Inter-City: 342 returns filed for $553,776 in refunds, including $178,646 in EITC refunds
Community Teamwork Inc.: 547 returns filed for $979,971 in refunds, including $494,708 in EITC refunds
North Shore Community Action Programs: 497 returns filed for $831,203 in refunds, including $378,759 in EITC refunds