United Way partners offer free virtual tax prep, financial coaching for Metro Detroiters

Published on February 14, 2022 in ,

Larry Hardy receives financial coaching at United Way partner Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency.

UNITED WAY PARTNERS OFFER FREE VIRTUAL TAX PREP, FINANCIAL COACHING FOR METRO DETROITERS 

With tax season at our doorsteps, finding an easy, affordable way to file is top of mind for many. Fortunately, you can visit a free tax prep location today and start saving more of your money. 

As part of our efforts to help households become stable, United Way for Southeastern Michigan supports convenient, free, in-person or virtual tax services for individuals who made less than $57,000 in 2021. 

There are multiple locations across Metro Detroit where individuals can get their taxes done for free. IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers process each family’s tax return. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are operated by our nonprofit tax-prep partners Accounting Aid Society and Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency in partnership with community partners such as Matrix Human Services. 

EASY TO FIND, EASY TO USE 

“Accounting Aid Society recognizes that families and individuals in our community want accessibility, flexibility, and safety.  Our in-person, virtual, and drop-and-go tax filing options provide just that – allowing clients to fit tax preparation into their schedules and providing assistance for those without an existing tax site in their neighborhood. After a hard stop in March of 2020, in-person tax preparation is back at five locations across Detroit, providing the dependable service our clients deserve,” said Priscilla Perkins, President and CEO of Accounting Aid Society.  

At Wayne Metro, which offers free tax preparation at a variety of times and locations throughout Wayne County, staff are trained to help clients identify tax credits that increase their returns. This includes the Home Heating Tax Credit, the expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). 

Depending on the location, clients can choose to wait while their tax returns are completed or drop off their documents and return later.  

At Wayne Metro, all clients begin the tax prep process with over-the-phone intake. From there, they work with the client to determine whether the rest of the process will be completed on-line or in-person. 

HELPING FAMILIES BECOME STABLE 

For more than a decade, we’ve invested in tax preparation services. When families improve their financial situations, they can become stable. 

With larger returns, families can achieve more financial security by saving a portion of their refund. 

“Having money set aside for an emergency can help defray added cost burdens and lessen financial stress,” said Wayne Metro CEO Louis D. Piszker. “With a rainy-day fund, a family can handle a small setback. That is empowering.” 

As a result of the City of Detroit’s annual EITC campaign, Detroiters have claimed $56 million more in EITC refunds each year on average. Prior to 2017, EITC-eligible Detroiters left an estimated $80 million of potential tax refunds unclaimed each year.  

Through last year’s coordinated outreach in the City of Detroit, thousands of Detroit families were able to take advantage of the expanded Child Tax Credit. Many of these families received monthly payments of up to $300 per child. Families are eligible for an additional lump sum of up to $1,800 per child when they file their taxes in 2022, plus any of the monthly payments they may have missed.   

BUILDING ON SUCCESS 

With financial support from United Way, Accounting Aid Society and Wayne Metro are able to invest in improving tax sites. They’re also able to upgrade technology and provide tax training. 

United Way’s 2-1-1 helpline operators also connect more than 1,000 callers with tax preparation services each year. 

“When families are able to file taxes for free and keep more of what they earn, it’s beneficial to not only the family’s long-term stability but the stability of the entire community,” said Megan Thibos, director, United Way Economic Mobility initiatives. “We aim to ensure that everyone receives all the tax credits they’re eligible for.” 

Make an appointment for tax help today or call 2-1-1 to schedule.