You Can Fight Poverty With Tax Preparation

By United Way of King County, on October 1, 2018 | In Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, Volunteering

Tax preparation season is a dreaded enemy for so many who struggle financially. But at United Way, we turn tax time into an ally. Extra dollars can put so many people on a path out of poverty. And your time can unblock that path.

It’s getting harder and harder to stay financially afloat in the Seattle area. Hardworking individuals and families in our community struggle to find stability.

Without the know-how or money for professional tax services, it can be difficult to decode your W-2—much less figure out if you’re eligible for any tax credits or other calculations on your tax return.

Our Free Tax Preparation Campaign is a tool we use to break the cycle of poverty and get people on solid ground. It helps people keep more of the money they earn. They can get an accurate tax refund, take care of their families and even save for the future.

How Free Tax Preparation Works

From January through April, our Free Tax Prep Campaign provides free, walk-in tax services at libraries, community centers and other public sites across King County. It’s run by trained volunteers who offer help in 50 languages. Plus it all happens during hours that are convenient for working families. Anyone making less than $66,000 per year may be eligible.

Each volunteer shift I did, I felt how much these services are needed, even more than taxes—they gave hope to people that they have a community where they can ask for help and not be shunned.” —2017 tax volunteer

Last year, 1,025 volunteers helped file 23,200 tax returns, totaling $31.6 million in refunds. Seriously, wow!

That’s $31.6  million of hard-earned money back in the pockets of struggling families. This includes more than $9.8 million from leveraging the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is widely seen as the nation’s strongest anti-poverty tool.

There were also nearly 3,500 referrals to other financial resources accessible through some of our partners in the nonprofit world—because we’re effectively wrapping these families in financial knowledge so they can stay stable once they’re out the door.
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You’ve Got a Spot on the Tax Team

You don’t need to be the Doogie Howser of the Financial District to help out at our tax sites.

Are you friendly? Do you have 3–4 free hours a week January to April? Then join one of our two volunteer roles!

We’ll train you and you’ll feel confident in your mission to fight poverty right here. And you might even pick up a tip or two for filing your own taxes.


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