OC Free Tax Prep is making a difference in the lives of individuals and families in Orange County. United Way’s free tax prep program provides services for low-income households to help them get the most out of their tax returns. Families are educated about Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) and other refunds they may be eligible for in order to receive more money back to care for their children, pay down debt, and build their savings.
The Vazquez family has benefitted from these free tax prep services to provide for their family of five:
(Translated) “We have 3 children of ages: 9, 10 and 17 years old. I work as a bartender and my wife as an elementary school assistant. In these difficult times, this free tax preparation service will help us a lot, mostly with our debt payments. The reimbursement we are going to receive is going to help us pay for our credit cards and other expenses. And the best thing about this is that we will have enough money to be able to save up this year.”
Shirley, a single mother of three, was able to access additional resources and put refunds toward planning for the future:During the 2019 tax season, OC Free Tax Prep filed nearly 21,000 tax returns for residents of Orange County resulting in more than $17 million in state and federal refunds. This money went back into the pockets of low-income families so they could afford basic necessities, increase savings, and help stimulate the local economy.
“My mother taught me to be very thoughtful with my finances and set aside money for rainy days,” Shirley explained. “My goal is to have two to three months of income saved in case I lose my job or to have enough to cover the cost of my car breaking down or for a medical expense. These refunds have allowed me to do that and I greatly appreciate this program and the volunteers here who walk me through the process every year.”
Many people miss out on valuable refunds and credits each year because they do not realize they are eligible to receive them. With help from OC Free Tax Prep and its partners, families can feel confident that they are getting the most from their return and don’t have to worry about how they will afford to file. This program aims to break the cycle of poverty one household at a time.