Thank Your Elected Officials in Congress for Protecting Access to VITA

Congress passed the Taxpayer First Act and made the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program permanent!

Say “thank you” to your elected officials for protecting free, high-quality tax preparation for hardworking Americans.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program was created 50 years ago as a demonstration pilot. When the President signs the Taxpayer First Act, VITA will be codified, and millions of taxpayers can count on this critical program for many tax seasons to come. VITA sites in every state across the country prepared over 1.5 million tax returns for low- and moderate-income Americans in 2019 bringing back $1.8 billion to communities.

You can thank your elected officials in Congress for protecting access to VITA for millions of taxpayers and urge them to increase investments in the program by clicking here

 

Press Release:  Legislation To Make VITA Permanent Passes Congress – Heads To President

For Immediate Release: June 17, 2019 –  Legislation To Make VITA Permanent Passes Congress – Heads To President
On Thursday, June 13 Congress passed a bill that will make the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program permanent. The bill, H.R. 3151 – The Taxpayer First Act, will now head to the President to be signed into law. On June 13th, over 60 United Way advocates visited Capitol Hill to advocate for key tax priorities including expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers not raising kids at home and young people ages 21 to 24. United Way of Forsyth County, Chief Impact Officer , Debbie Wilson, was among those advocating and she notes, “As the United Way of Forsyth County continues to fight poverty in our community, the EITC is very important; just last year $51.6 million in refunds came back into our community”

The passage of this legislation is a major win for the United Way network, and for millions of low and moderate income Americans.

VITA started 50 years ago, and since 2008 it has been classified as a demonstration pilot program – requiring an authorization from Congress every year. Now, the program will be permanently authorized.

380 United Ways fund, operate, or support VITA programs in their communities. And the VITA program as a whole prepared returns for 1.3 million people, bringing back $1.9 billion dollars to the pockets of working families in 2018.

Through VITA, IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers help individuals that earn less than $55,000 a year to claim refundable tax credits—the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). Recipients of these credits use the boost in income to pay for things like reliable transportation to work, childcare, or groceries. Children in families that receive the EITC tend to better in school, have a better chance of going to college and experience better health outcomes.

60 network leaders, many of whom represent VITA United Ways, were on the Hill on Thursday, June 13th as a part of the United Way Tax Policy Forum and Capitol Hill Day. They were there to advocate for this legislation, and to expand the refundable tax credits for many of the same folks who are VITA clients.

Legislation aimed at making the VITA program permanent has been introduced multiple times over many years. In some cases, those bills passed one chamber of Congress but never made it across the finish line.

By Caitlan Arenas Martinez

For more information about the United Way, visit www.forsythunitedway.org

# # #

 

United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County Will Attend Hill Day and Advocate for Increasing the EITC

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — United Way of Forsyth County Will Attend Hill Day and Advocate for Increasing the EITC

On June 13th, over 60 United Way advocates will storm Capitol Hill to advocate for key tax priorities including expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers not raising kids at home and young people ages 21 to 24. While the EITC is one of the most effective tools we have to help working families keep their heads above water, it currently excludes millions of workers.

The Tax Policy Forum and Hill Day is an opportunity for United Ways from across the country to travel to United Way Worldwide and dive deep into the network’s top tax policy priorities: the Charitable Deduction, Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

This event will feature speakers and subject matter experts about each of these leading policy issues, and participants will have the opportunity to put their knowledge into action through application workshops and the Hill Day. During the Hill Day event on June 13, participants will meet with their Members of Congress to advocate for the network policy priorities.

United Way of Forsyth County Chief Impact Officer, Debbie Wilson will be visiting the offices of Representative Virginia Fox, Senator Burr and Senator Tillis. Wilson notes, “ We are excited to advocate for increasing the EITC.  As the United Way of Forsyth County continues to fight poverty in our community, we know that the EITC is very important. More than 5 million American workers are taxed into poverty, largely because they are excluded from the pro-work, anti-poverty impacts of the EITC. We’re encouraging supporters to join in advocating for the EITC by visiting:  https://www.unitedway.org/get-involved/take-action/stand-up-for-working-americans “.

For more information about the United Way, visit www.forsythunitedway.org

                                                                                             # # #

United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

All the people of Winston-Salem deserve council members who live in their neighborhoods, understand their concerns and feel the same effects of city zoning and spending choices. Only district elections ensure the people are represented by individuals from their own communities. As the United Way of Forsyth County has long affirmed: place matters.

Sen. Paul Lowe weighs in on House Bill 519.

 

https://www.journalnow.com/opinion/columnists/n-c-sen-paul-lowe-house-bill-is-not-the/article_1f6e1a75-811d-5e3d-95e5-2b9a8db67026.html

New Survey Finds Majority of Millennials Stress Over Filing Taxes

new survey, conducted by United Way Worldwide, finds that 74 percent of millennial respondents indicate they felt some level of stress around filing their returns. The survey of over 1,000 millennials (those between the ages of 18-36) reveals that common stressors include making a mistake (48 percent) and not getting a full refund (23 percent).

Additionally, the survey found that millennials are not claiming the tax credits that they have earned. Fifty percent of those surveyed did not claim any tax credits last year; 67 percent of respondents were interested in learning more about tax credits for which they are eligible, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

United Way is proud to partner with H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) to provide MyFreeTaxes, a valuable tool that can ease the stress of tax season by helping filers claim the tax credits for which they qualify. MyFreeTaxes is a free, easy and safe tool for anyone earning less than $66,000 to file federal and state taxes.

“United Way’s free tax preparation service, MyFreeTaxes, is the longest standing service provided by a nonprofit,” said Mary Sellers, U.S. President, United Way Worldwide. “Our mission is to help every person in every community achieve financial stability. With so many millennials experiencing stress during tax season, we encourage them – and any qualifying individual – to use our free and easy tax preparation service. The tool will help them claim all the credits they deserve and save on tax filing fees in order to pay down debt, increase savings and reduce the stress they feel around tax season.”

MyFreeTaxes is completely free for households that earned less than $66,000 in 2017. United Way and longtime partner, H&R Block, have provided free tax filing services for federal and state taxes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia since 2009, helping almost one million taxpayers claim every tax deduction and credit for which they are eligible. These tax deductions and credits lead to refunds, totaling $180 million since 2009, that enable individuals and families to improve their financial stability by putting more money back in their pockets. United Way believes that people everywhere should have an opportunity to advance their economic status and is proud to partner with H&R Block to provide a valuable tool to help people better manage their money and get on more solid financial ground.

MyFreeTaxes

Qualifying filers, those earning less than $66,000, can enter data into a secure website, MyFreeTaxes.com, anytime, from anywhere, making it easy to update the documents from home, at work or on mobile devices. The service also includes a helpline, 1-855-MY-TX-HELP, which operates through April 30 from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm EST Monday through Friday and noon to 9:00 pm EST Saturday.  The website also provides a live chat function. MyFreeTaxes is provided by United Way and H&R Block, which offers safe and secure software and guarantees that tax returns are 100 percent accurate.

About United Way Worldwide

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Supported by 2.9 million volunteers, 9.8 million donors worldwide and $4.7 billion raised every year, United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit. We’re engaged in 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create sustainable solutions to the challenges facing our communities. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith-based organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For more information about United Way, please visit UnitedWay.org. Follow us on Twitter: @UnitedWay and #LiveUnited.

About H&R Block

H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE:HRB) is a global consumer tax services provider. Tax return preparation services are provided by professional tax preparers in approximately 12,000 company-owned and franchise retail tax offices worldwide, and through H&R Block tax software products for the DIY consumer. H&R Block also offers adjacent Tax Plus products and services. In fiscal 2017, H&R Block had annual revenues of over $3 billion with 23 million tax returns prepared worldwide. For more information, visit the H&R Block Newsroom.

MEDIA CONTACT

Southerlyn Reisig, United Way
southerlyn.reisig@uww.unitedway.org
Tel. 703.836.7100 ext.321

Christine Sanchez, United Way
christine.sanchez@uww.unitedway.org
Tel. 703-836-7100 ext. 564

Susan Waldron, H&R Block
susan.waldron@hrblock.com
Tel. 816-854-5522

United Way Worldwide Announces its Opposition to the Senate Tax Reform Bill (H.R. 1)

ALEXANDRIA, VA (December 1, 2017) – United Way Worldwide tonight announced its opposition to the Senate tax reform bill (H.R. 1) and is urging Senators to vote against its passage, saying the legislation provides little to no benefit to low-income families and will dramatically undermine the organization’s work.

“On behalf of those who will be impacted in nearly every community we serve, I am deeply troubled by many aspects of the tax reform bill the Senate is now considering,” said United Way Worldwide President and CEO Brian Gallagher. “Congress is gambling with the lives of millions of people who rely on charitable and government social services by increasing the federal deficit to fund tax cuts. If Congress loses the bet, our country’s $20 trillion debt will expand and the resulting cuts to federal spending will be on key programs that help disadvantaged Americans survive.”

Gallagher continued, “As bad as the deficit implications are in this bill, the threshold for United Way is the harm the bill will do to private charities. The elimination of the charitable deduction for 31 million middle and upper-middle income taxpayers causes such damage to our ability to help people, we have no choice but to oppose the bill.”

According to numerous nonpartisan analysts, 95 percent of Americans will be taxed on their donations to charities. As a result, giving to charities will decrease by $13 billion dollars per year. Faith-based, basic needs, social services, and disaster relief charities will bear the brunt of the decrease. Because of our reliance on the middleclass donors, cumulatively, United Ways across the U.S. will face losses between $256 to $455 million per year, significantly impacting their ability to help those who will now be in potentially greater need.

Further, there is unanimous agreement among academics and economists that charitable tax incentives enable people to give more. While any individual person has a variety of motives for giving, the century-old policy of exempting charitable donations from taxes significantly increases charitable giving. Claims that the final tax reform legislation will increase charitable giving are unsupported by any fact-based analysis.

“We have been working all year to inform policymakers about the ramifications of the tax proposal to our sector,” said United Way Worldwide U.S. President Mary Sellers. “The charitable sector proposed a straight-forward, cost-effective fix that would have actually increased future charitable giving. We were making our case on behalf of millions of low-income Americans who rely on our help, but who have no voice on Capitol Hill. But our efforts were largely dismissed and it looks like Congress disregarded evidence that was counter to the tax policy narrative.”

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. The organization assesses relevant federal legislation based on whether it will advance or harm its mission, and its ability to serve 61 million Americans who rely on United Way each and every day.

About United Way Worldwide 

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Supported by 2.8 million volunteers, 9.8 million donors worldwide, and more than $4.7 billion raised every year, United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit. We’re engaged in nearly 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create sustainable solutions to the challenges facing our communities. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith-based organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For more information about United Way, please visit www.UnitedWay.org. Read our annual report and follow us on Twitter: @UnitedWay and #LiveUnited.

Media Contact

Southerlyn Reisig
southerlyn.reisig@uww.unitedway.org
Tel. 703.836.7100 ext.321

Christine Sanchez
christine.sanchez@uww.unitedway.org
Tel. 703-836-7100 ext. 564

Press Release: RAIS Finance Pros Put in 80 Volunteer Hours Easing the Tax-Prep Burden for Forsyth County Residents

Tax season is taxing for most of us, but many lower-income and elderly people find it especially complex and costly. A helping hand can make a big difference.

Each year, as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, qualified volunteer tax preparers in Forsyth County, N.C., fan out across the community, preparing taxes for free for people making $54,000 a year or less. This year, group of six RAI Services (RAIS) employees — all finance professionals — joined the volunteer effort on behalf of the nonprofit Experiment in Self-Reliance after getting the necessary training and certification.

“It was truly a rewarding experience,” said Edna Bonilla, a senior manager in the finance department and one of the volunteers. “The clientele is very grateful for the patience, time and knowledge invested in assisting them with the preparation of their tax returns. I would gladly volunteer going forward and encourage others to participate in the VITA program.”

The other volunteers this year were Joshua Hulin, Liqing Carey, Bruce Nix, Jim Carros and Dianise Maldonado. All were recently honored for their work with community-service certificates from the Internal Revenue Service, and they received special thank-you letters from the Experiment in Self Reliance. “They did an exceptional job, collectively contributing 80 hours this past tax season, and the payback was huge,” said Jerry Romans, vice president of special projects and board chairman of the local agency.

The VITA program, which is also supported by the United Way of Forsyth County, focuses on the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This represents the largest anti-poverty program in the U.S., lifting 9 million people out of poverty by providing low-income working adults with a tax credit based on their income. On average, a qualified Forsyth County taxpayer receives $1,700 in EITC credit, and sometimes the credit can be more than the amount earned during the year. In addition to benefiting working families, the credit brings money directly into the community. Volunteer tax preparers are educated on tax credits and help people receive every tax credit for which they qualify. For the 2017 tax season, nearly 4,000 returns — generating about $4.9 million in refunds, of which $2.3 million were EITC — were done through VITA/EITC programs in Forsyth County.

“This free tax preparation service is very much in line with our philanthropic mission,” Romans said. “It has a major economic impact, but it is very volunteer intensive, and we would love for more of our employees to participate next year.”

Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County Supported Agencies Offering Free Tax Preparation to Low and Moderate Income Families

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – United Way of Forsyth County supported Forsyth Free Tax (FFT) is offering free tax preparation to low and moderate income families and seniors in Forsyth County from Feb. 1 to April 15.

FFT in collaboration with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, provides U.S. Internal Revenue Service-certified volunteers to prepare basic income tax returns free for individuals earning $54,000 a year or less. Individuals earning $64,000 or less, are able to file self-prepared returns online free at myfreetaxes.com (http://www.unitedway.org/myfreetaxes/)

The volunteer tax preparers will also assist with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) initiative, the largest anti-poverty program in the US, lifting 9 million people out of poverty. The EITC provides low-income working adults with a tax credit based on their income. On average, a qualified Forsyth County taxpayer receives $1,700 in EITC credit, and the credit can sometimes total more than the amount earned during the year. In addition to benefiting working families, the credit brings money directly into the Forsyth County community.

The free tax services will be provided from 13 locations throughout Forsyth County:

Experiment in Self-Reliance (3480 Dominion Street, 336-722-9400) – Open Feb. 1 – April 18, Mondays-Thursdays 10 am — 3 pm, Saturdays 9 am- 1 pm, closed April 15.

Goodwill Industries (2760 Peters Creek Parkway, 336-201-0800) – Feb. 7 – April 13, Tuesdays, Thursdays 4 pm-7: 30 pm.

Goodwill Industries (2701 University Parkway, 336-724-3625) – Feb. 1 — April 13, Wednesdays, Thursdays 4 pm-8 pm

King Public Library (101 Pilot View Drive, King, NC, 336-983-3868) – Feb. 9 – April 13, Thursdays 4-8 pm, appointments only

Malloy-Jordan Center (1110 East 7th Street, 336-703-2950) – Feb. 11 – April 15, Saturdays 10 am-2 pm, closed April 8.

Mi Casa Servicios Hispano-Latino (1705 Link Road, 336-722-7040) – Feb. 1- April 18, Monday-Friday 9 am – 5 pm, closed April 14.

Prosperity Center South (508 Waughtown Street, 336-788-4965) – Feb. 1- April 17, Mondays 9 am -12 pm, Wednesdays 4 pm-8 pm, Fridays 11 am-3 pm, Saturdays 9 am-1 pm, closed April 14-15.

Winston-Salem Transit Authority (100 W. 5th Street, 336-727-2000) – Feb. 6- April 18, Mondays and Tuesdays 4 pm – 8 pm, Fridays 1 pm-5 pm, closed April 11.

Walnut Cove Senior Center (308 Brooke Street, Walnut Cove, NC, 336-591-5442) – Feb. 6 – April 17, Mondays 1 pm-5 pm, appointments only.

Winston-Salem Federal Credit Union (711 E Salem Ave., 336-727-2663) – Feb. 1 – April 13, Monday-Thursday 9 am – 4 pm, appointments only.

Rural Hall Library (7125 Broad Street, Rural Hall, NC, 336-703-2970) – Feb. 8 – April 12, Wednesdays 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., appointments only.

Participants are asked to bring a picture ID, Social Security card for themselves and each dependent they are claiming, all W-2s and 1099s, employer ID number or SS number of childcare providers, and last year’s tax returns if itemizing. Individuals desiring direct deposit of any refund are required to bring a check or savings account information.