Successful tax filing assistance program brings money back to the community

Taxes can be complicated. With changing rules, guidelines, and instructions, it’s easy to understand why even professionals have a hard time keeping up. Fortunately for many Ohioans, Community Action Agencies are prepared to help low- to moderate-income households figure it all out with the Ohio Benefit Bank Tax Assistance program and trained volunteers. Funded partially with CSBG dollars, HHWP Community Action Commission program helped customers file their taxes and meet their tax obligation. They even helped families access eligible tax credits to bring money back to their communities.

Mary*, a single mother of two sons, was barely getting by week to week. Her oldest was working on his first year in college while also living at home, and her youngest was claimed each year by his father. With the help of her OBB Tax Volunteer, she learned she would be able to access the Hope Education Credit for her son and receive a $1,000 credit to be applied to her tax liability. Mary was thrilled she would be able to help make the spring tuition payment for her son! After some additional inputs in the program, not only did they realize that she had the additional tax credit, they found a refund was owed of $6,600 due to overpayment throughout the year! Her eyes welled with tears as she turned to her volunteer and said, “You have no idea how much this means to us.” Mary would not only be able to help pay for Spring semester, but she would also be able to pay it in full and still have enough left over to keep them temporarily from living week-to-week and work to gain a more stable footing.

Mary’s story is not unlike many others who have been helped with the Tax Assistance program. What makes this program special is that it is completely free to all Ohioans with an adjusted gross income under $95,000 if filing jointly and $65,000 or less if not filing with a spouse. Other paid tax services sometimes charge $300 or more to prepare and e-file a return. Instead, low- and moderate-income families can keep that money in their pockets to pay for expenses.

HHWP CAC volunteers filed 370 federal tax returns and provided access to 52 households to complete their own taxes using self-help units. The Earned Income Tax Credit allowed 107 taxpayers to receive $162,605 and over $840,000, in total, was returned to their community.

*Name(s) changed to maintain client confidentiality