United Way’s free tax preparation effort aims to reach estimated 23% of eligible workers who leave these funds unclaimed each season
BOSTON – With Tax Day in just over two weeks, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley is urging low-income workers to reach out to free tax preparation sites in their local communities to determine their eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax credits and refunds.
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. 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, is funding free tax preparation services at 11 locations in the region.
Free tax preparation is being offered by the United Way/Bank of America partnership at locations serving individuals 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. Free tax prep sites in other communities across the Commonwealth can be found by calling 2-1-1.
“Time is running out,” says Michael K. Durkin, president at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Too many of these credits, which hard-working people have rightfully earned, are left unclaimed each year because people are simply not aware of their eligibility. Our community partners and volunteer tax preparers are trained to help individuals access these funds through their tax returns. Those refunds can help bring families closer to economic stability, and in turn they can help fuel the economic stability of communities, too.”
Last year, the 2014 tax season, this partnership returned a total of $2.9 million in EITC credits, and $10.2 million in total refunds and credits, to 4,515 residents through 10 community-based organizations in eastern Massachusetts. Individuals received an average amount of $2,050 from these refunds and/or credits – money that individuals can use to pay down debt, or apply to savings for a down payment on a home or start a business.
“While it’s rewarding to see thousands of individuals and families benefit from this service every year, it’s incredibly frustrating to know that a significant portion of available funds go unclaimed,” said Bob Gallery, Massachusetts president, Bank of America. “We need everyone’s help in spreading the word.”