How tax season can help Southeast Louisiana families recover from the pandemic
This year, Tax Day will be more important than ever as many families continue to face the financial toll of the COVID-19 crisis.
● 1 in 3 adults overall, and 1 in 2 people who are Black or Latino, report that it has been somewhat or very difficult to cover household expenses.
● About 30% of Americans have reported lower income since the start of the pandemic.
● About 35% of Americans have less emergency savings than before the pandemic began.
Free tax prep is one way United Way of Southeast Louisiana is helping households in our community get back on their feet. Keep reading to learn why and how you can take advantage of these programs.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
United Way SELA coordinates the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program in seven parishes to help low-income families avoid expensive commercial tax preparers and get the full refund they deserve.
The VITA program provides low- and moderate-income individuals and families with free, reliable assistance in filing federal tax returns. In 2019, VITA volunteers in Southeast Louisiana prepared thousands of tax returns that brought more than $12 million back to our community. Families use these dollars to cover child care expenses, pay bills, and save for the future.
EITC and CTC
Our tax prep volunteers screen each client’s eligibility for tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. The EITC is the federal government’s largest benefit for workers, and both credits greatly reduce poverty for working families. Watch our team member Helen Bougere explain the many benefits of the EITC in this video.
MyFreeTaxes is an easy way for people to file their taxes for free and another tool in our tax prep kit. United Way offers this free online tax preparation software to every household with a simple return, regardless of their income level.
2020 Stimulus Payments
Our work to help community members obtain their stimulus payments continues, and many households will turn to VITA and MyFreeTaxes to get free help claiming missed stimulus funds. The 211 helpline has also served as a go-to resource for people calling to get more information on the stimulus.
Our entire community benefits when more working individuals and families are able to move from a financial tightrope to solid ground. Consider making a gift today to help United Way ensure everyone in our community can afford the essentials and save for the future.
Special thanks to our VITA sponsors: Asset Building Coalition, Entergy, and 211.
Vice President, Financial Capability
United Way of Southeast Louisiana