United Way seeks volunteers to assist families with tax prep

Tax season is quickly approaching, and because the United Way of Greater Cincinnati recognizes it can sometimes be a stressful time for hardworking families, it’s seeking volunteers who can commit to helping those families file for free.
 
Last year, at more than 30 locations across Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky, 753 volunteers prepared nearly 20,00 tax returns, which provided about $21 million in refunds, and the goal this year is to have just as big—if not more—of an impact.
 
“We want people to avoid the predatory practices out there, in addition to the unnecessary fees,” says Lucy Crane, director of community impact at UWGC. “We also want to make sure they claim all the tax credits they’re entitled to.”
 
It’s not just beneficial for the families receiving tax prep, though, Crane says. The volunteers, who become IRS tax-trained and certified, learn a beneficial skill as well.
 
“I think it’s a unique opportunity, because how often do you hear about volunteering to do people’s taxes?” Crane says. “You’re interacting with people and being of assistance to them in a way that’s very concrete, and at the end of the day, you know clearly how they felt.”
 
When tax credits sometimes account for $1,000, Crane says the impact can be huge.
 
“We survey our filers and we ask them how they’re going use their refunds, and most of them use it to pay down bills—so it could be a student loan, a grocery bill, helping to pay rent—and about 10 percent use it for some kind of savings—for a car—or a lot of time, it’s for their kids,” Crane says. “They’re really grateful, and they come back year after year because they really depend on it and trust us.” 

Do Good:

•    Volunteer to commit to working at least 12 hours this tax season.

•    If you need assistance with tax prep, learn where to go to get help.

•    If you earn less than $58,000 annually, and you'd rather do your taxes on your own, file for free here.
 

Read more articles by Brittany York.

Brittany York is a freelance writer, adjunct English composition instructor and server at Orchids at Palm Court. She loves travel and photography. Keep up with Brittany on Instagram @brittbrittbrittbrittany.
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