|United Way is proud to make free tax preparation available to hardworking families in our community. Our 15 free tax preparation locations are now open!|
The IRS has delayed their start date to process individual tax returns until January 30 in order to make updates from the American Tax Payer Relief Act. However, Neighborhood Tax Centers are open and ready to prepare tax returns for clients who wish to start the process.
This marks the fifth year of United Way of Greater Houston's investment in free tax preparation at Neighborhood Tax Centers across the Houston area. Services are tailored to help hard-working, lower-income families keep more of the money they've earned and build a stronger financial future.
Last year, hundreds of volunteers helped 28,000 Houston-area families claim more than $41 million in refunds. In married households, the average tax refund was $2,365. In single-parent households, the average refund was $3,156.
Neighborhood Tax Centers is a key component of United Way THRIVE, a collaborative effort launched and led by United Way of Greater Houston, designed to help low-income, working families achieve what every family wants: good jobs with good wages, safe and affordable housing, financial security and success for their children.
“Neighborhood Tax Centers is a key partner within the United Way THRIVE collaborative that seeks to support families on their path to become financially stable,” says Fran Rosebush, senior manager, Community Investment, United Way of Greater Houston. “Their IRS-certified volunteers provide quality assistance to hard-working, low-income families. While families are at the tax centers, they also learn how to access other key services in THRIVE, like opening a savings account, financial coaching, and job skills training.”
Free tax preparation services are available to families who earn less than $50,000 a year and individuals with annual incomes of less than $30,000. Families and individuals who have experienced a change in circumstances, such as job loss, may also qualify.
This free service has a significant economic impact on families by helping them claim the Earned Income Credit and Child Tax Credit, which they earn but often do not know about or pay high fees to commercial tax preparers to claim. During the 2012 tax season, free tax preparation helped Houston-area families claim more than $16 million in Earned Income Credits, a 16 percent increase over 2011. Nationally, the Earned Income Tax Credit lifts more families out of poverty each year than any other program.
For the second year, taxpayers are encouraged to leverage their tax refunds to build savings through United Way SAVE, a collaborative effort between United Way THRIVE and Neighborhood Tax Centers. Those filers who are eligible for a tax refund can put $100 to $1000 dollars into a Promise Credit Union savings account, leave it until January 2014 and receive a 25 percent match on their savings.
This year, 15 Neighborhood Tax Centers will operate throughout the Greater Houston area, including the Bay Area. United Way of Greater Houston is proud to partner with Neighborhood Centers, Inc. to provide this important service to local families. We hope you will help us spread the word about Neighborhood Tax Centers to your friends, family, and others in the community.
For tax center locations and more information, view the flier or call the 2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE. Just dial 2-1-1!