This year, Tax Day will be one of the most important of the century so far. That’s because the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a financial toll on so many families.
- 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.
Last year, San Antonio VITA locations prepared more than 23,000 tax returns for San Antonio residents, returning $43 million dollars in refunds to the local economy, including $16 million dollars in Earned Income Tax Credits, with additional savings for Child Tax Credits (CTC). This free service saved our residents $6 million in tax preparation fees.
EITC and CTC
The Earned Income Tax Credit or EITC is the federal government’s largest benefit for workers. The EITC and CTC greatly reduce poverty for working families. Last year 22 million people received a tax credit through EITC.
For Angel, a working mom of three, claiming the EITC changed her life. Before she knew she qualified, Angel was stuck with a car that was dangerous to drive. Buying a new car wasn’t an option, but Angel needed a car to drive her family to school, daycare and work every day. To make do with what she had, Angel became an expert at putting her car in neutral, re-starting it, and putting it back into gear—all while still moving. But then Angel had her taxes prepared at her local free tax preparation site, claimed the EITC, and received a return—enough to put a down payment on a more reliable car.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The VITA program provides low- and moderate-income individuals and families in San Antonio earning up to $55,000 with free, reliable assistance in filing federal tax returns.
In 2019, VITA volunteers prepared thousands of tax returns, returning heard-earned dollars to taxpayers and boosting the Bexar County economy. These dollars are spent to cover childcare expenses, pay bills, as well as to save for the future.
Jody’s two children were accepted to multiple universities. She wanted to help them make the best decisions they could, but long road trips, overnight stays and time away from work for campus tours can be near impossible for a hardworking single mother. Then Jody had her taxes prepared at her United Way VITA site. Jody used the EITC tax credit she received for college visits, which helped her son and daughter find the campuses that were the best fit. Now Jody can feel confident that she did everything she could for her kids to have a good shot at a better life.
Sites will work a bit differently this year. All sites will operate using the “drop-off” method. Read more about it here.
San Antonio VITA locations will close April 15, 2021.*
*Please note that victims of February’s winter storms in Texas and Oklahoma can wait until June 15, 2021, to file their 2020 federal income tax return. This announcement from the IRS follows a disaster area declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the two states.
MyFreeTaxes is an easy way for people to file their taxes for free. United Way offers this free online tax preparation software to every household with a simple return.
Destiny, a financial aid advisor, always had someone else prepare her taxes. It was expensive and she felt like they missed several deductions. Then she discovered MyFreeTaxes. The online platform walked her through tax preparation step-by-step and even makes it simple to find past returns on her computer. Destiny said she’s happy to find something that saved her time and money and plans to continue using MyFreeTaxes.
2020 Stimulus Payments
As families struggle during the pandemic, many households will receive stimulus payments and turn to VITA to get free help finding tax credits. Our 2-1-1 Helpline serves as a go-to resource for thousands calling to get more information about how VITA helps.
CARES Act Charitable Deduction
On March 27, 2020, Congress enacted The CARES Act, which created a $300 charitable deduction for the 120 million Americans who do not itemize their taxes. United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County donors can deduct up to $300 in charitable contributions made before December 31, 2020.
The whole community benefits when more working individuals and families are able to pay for the basics and save for the future–moving from a financial tightrope to solid ground.