This morning, I was thrilled to help kick off our annual Make Work Pay partnership free income tax preparation program, which helps provide working families in our community with a real economic boost.
By the time I got to Elder High School (one of our sites) at 10:00 a.m., dozens of residents were already working with our team of volunteers to file their taxes (for free), and to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. Applause broke out at one point when a hard-working woman learned the good news that she was eligible for a sizeable credit, which she will receive in a few days. (And, every one who came to the clinic also received a County Prescription Drug Discount Card.)
Under the program, volunteer tax preparers make sure applicants file for eligible earned income tax credits (EITC) and child tax credits (CTC). The EITC is a bipartisan program designed to help working lower income families get out of poverty. Filers are eligible for a credit of up to $4,716. Our program not only ensures that eligible citizens claim the credit, but it avoids costly fees and interest rates charged by private, storefront tax preparers.
Last year the program, which offered 33 sites across the region, filed 9,200 returns and garnered almost $9.2 million in refunds for applicants, with $7.7 million of that going to Hamilton County residents—and into the local economy.
I was proud to initiate this partnership while on Cincinnati City Council, and to have brought it to the County once I arrived here. And given our current economic climate, it is especially important that we bring these dollars back to Hamilton County residents, and back into the local economy.
Tax preparation sites this year include Elder High School, Xavier University, the Hamilton County Public Library, the Madisonville Community Center, and the Cincinnati Community Action Agency. And the key global partners in the program are the City of Cincinnati, the United Way, the Legal Aid Societies of Cincinnati and Southwest Ohio, and many other site partners such as Elder, National City Bank, Children's Hospital, and our Library.
But the key to it all are dozens of volunteers who greet residents, sit down with them, and then work with them side by side to file their taxes. These volunteers undergo a lot of training to be able to do this work, but it's worth it. Today, I spoke to one volunteer who has volunteered every year since we started the program six years ago, and he still loves the work.
It's a fantastic program, and part of our larger effort to help local families through this challenging time. Thanks to all in the partnership who make this happen.
To find out more information on eligibility, site locations and times, or how to volunteer, citizens should contact the United Way by calling 211 or visit http://www.makeworkpay.com/.