Members of the 2017 Free Tax Help Coalition at their annual wrap-up meeting. Pictured, L-R: Tim Wilson (Montana Department of Revenue), Dr. Trina Filan (United Way), Althea Brown (Montana Legal Services Association), Jessie Murray (Rural Dynamics, Inc.), Wendi Castle (Internal Revenue Service), Mary Ann Dunwell (Montana Department of Revenue), Karen Alvear (IRS Taxpayer Advocacy Services), Lana Finch (AARP Foundation Tax-Aide).

 

Financial Stability

Goal: Empower Individuals to increase their financial stability.

The Earned Income Tax Credit is proven to be one of the most effective tools in alleviating poverty.  That’s why United Way Worldwide advocates for it at the state and national levels.  In addition, United Way of the Lewis and Clark Area leads the local Free Tax Help Coalition to and provides grants to fund some local free tax preparation sites.  This ensures our neighbors have opportunities to have their basic tax returns prepared and e-filed for free via the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs.

Through these free, annual programs, our partners work to train and certify volunteers through the Internal Revenue Service, set up locations, dates and times for clinics, and do outreach to the community.  For the 2017 tax season, over $864,000 was refunded to our community in federal returns alone, increasing the total for local returns in the last three years to over $2.5 million.

Many of our neighbors are just one car repair bill or one childcare payment away from making very difficult decisions.  The programs offered helps them save money as well as having someone who knows the tax code help them maximize their return and check for every deduction.  It helps pay rent, cover extra expenses, and care for families.

Since our community helped us establish a new goal to increase financial stability by empowering our neighbors to increase their financial stability, we are proud to partner* with a variety of professionals and organizations to make this program possible for our neighbors!

*Free Tax Help Coalition Members include Rural Dynamics, Inc., the Internal Revenue Service, Montana Legal Services Association, Montana Department of Revenue, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, and United Way of the Lewis and Clark Area. Free Tax location partners include Lewis and Clark Public Library, RMDC Senior Center, East Helena United Methodist Church, Good Samaritan Thrift Store, Helena College (University of Montana), Helena Food Share, and Helena Industries.

Programmatic information provided through organizational application for funding

Participants for Free Tax Help Clinics display what their tax return will do for them.

Related Opportunities for Tax Assistance

United Way Worldwide recently entered into a partnership with H&R Block to provide a free, online service for those who prefer to prepare and submit their taxes at home.  They launched a website to facilitate free preparation and submission of the required forms through MyFreeTaxes.com.

Free Tax Help is now augmented by a free IRS service for Virtual Service Delivery (VSD) offered at the office for United Way of the Lewis and Clark Area.  Taxpayers may call the IRS toll-free at 1-844-545-5640 to schedule an appointment with the IRS for a video chat appointment to discuss their tax questions with a professional, and the IRS will notify United Way so the system will be prepared and ready for the appointment at the time the taxpayer arrives.  This service is provide free of charge.