The 2014 tax season results are in, and the good news from United Way’s income tax preparation centers can be summed up in one word: “more.”
More free tax returns filed, more refunds claimed, more Earned Income Tax Credits to help low-income working families and the local economy.
A total of 5,081 returns were filed yielding $9.93 million in refunds, up from 4,357 returns and $8.70 million last year. Of this year’s amount, $4.08 million was Earned Income Tax Credits, up 21 percent from the $3.37 million in EITC claims filed at the centers last year. Among the EITC filers, 960 were new this year.
The free tax preparation centers are part of United Way’s Earn Well financial stability initiative. Working with partners Catholic Charities, the City of Arlington and Foundation Communities, United Way operated more than a dozen VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) centers throughout the county from January through mid-April.
“We helped more than 5,000 families in Tarrant County move forward on the path to financial stability,” said Sue Matkin, United Way Vice President, Community Development. Equally impressive is the fact that 316 people agreed either to put part of their income tax return in a savings account or buy a savings bond. That’s 44 percent more people than last year. For many families who are barely making ends meet, “this is about the only time they can really save money,” said Sue.
Interest in the tax preparation centers was high this year: United Way’s 2-1-1 information and referral staff answered more than 6,300 calls from people inquiring about volunteer income tax assistance.
More than 200 volunteers contributed more than 5,100 hours serving as tax preparers, intake specialists, interpreters and greeters to help the families who came to receive help filing their taxes. The volunteers made sure the families knew about any tax credits for which they were eligible, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Volunteer Sam Moon was honored at the April 17 VITA Volunteer Appreciation Dinner for being the volunteer who worked the most hours this year. He helped prepare taxes for 142 hours.
Volunteers came from 17 companies and seven area colleges and universities. The University of Texas at Arlington earned kudos by logging 975 hours; the most volunteer hours accumulated by a participating educational institution.