The Boston Tax Help Coalition (formerly the Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition) has launched a new website just in time to help residents for the 2015 tax season. The user-friendly website, www.bostontaxhelp.org
, promotes access to financial tools, including free tax preparation for eligible individuals and families, as well as economic stability programs for residents around the City.
The EITC is a powerful tool in the fight against income inequality. “Our goal is to combat poverty as a systemic, citywide issue,” explains Mayor Walsh. “And it’s important that our residents, especially those navigating financial strain, are aware of the many resources out there. By increasing the impact of the Boston Tax Coalition, we hope to put more of our residents on track to financial stability.”
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in 2013 the EITC lifted 6.2 million Americans, over half of which were children, out of poverty. The EITC is widely regarded as one of the most effective poverty alleviation programs in the country.
John Barros, the Mayor’s Chief of Economic Development, joined community leaders today to promote the EITC and officially launch the Boston Tax Help Coalition at 1199 SEIU in Dorchester.
Since 2001, the Coalition – a partnership of area nonprofits, business, and community organizations – has promoted the economic independence of working families and individuals throughout Boston. This year, residents will have access to 27 tax preparation sites located in neighborhoods across the city. Times and services vary by location, and individuals interested in assistance are encouraged to visit www.bostontaxhelp.org/2015-tax-sites/
for more information.
Jerry Rubin, president of JVS
, a Coalition member organization, underscored the shared mission of the group. “At JVS we understand the importance of helping residents increase more than just their earning power. We are thrilled to partner with Mayor Walsh and his team to offer a full complement of integrated asset building services, including free tax preparation at our site.”
This year, the Coalition will provide free tax preparation to over 12,600 households, aiming to put $24.7 million back into the pockets of Boston residents. Services are available in 8 languages, including English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Somali, Cape Verdean Creole, Haitian Creole, and Portuguese. Through the Boston Tax Help Ambassador Program, community leaders fluent in a language other than English provide outreach and tax services to Boston’s immigrant communities, ensuring that financial opportunities are available to all residents.
Services have been greatly expanded for taxpayers with disabilities as well. Individuals can learn more about location-specific accommodations, and arrange services as needed by calling the City of Boston’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities at 617-635-3682.
Participants in Boston Tax Help will be able to benefit from the Financial Check-Up Program (FCU), which provides a free, individual financial assessment for eligible taxpayers that aims to maximize one’s financial stability and resources. FCU expects to serve 3,000 residents at 10 of the 27 tax preparation sites. Participants can receive FICO credit score evaluations and personalized financial advice. They will also have the option to participate in the Coalition’s year-long individualized financial coaching program upon request.
Boston Tax Help relies heavily on volunteers, and the Coalition hopes to recruit 50 volunteers to assist with this year’s new and expanded services.
“Volunteering with the EITC program gives you an intrinsic feeling of gratitude, knowing that your efforts have a profound impact on the lives of low and moderate income families,” said Patrick Johnson, a longtime volunteer for the Coalition in Dorchester.
Volunteer positions include tax preparers, financial guides, and greeters. Training is provided by the Coalition. For a description of volunteer opportunities, please visit www.bostontaxhelp.org/volunteer-positions/
. Interested volunteers should email Kim Sobrinho at Kim.Bomba@boston.gov
or call her at (617) 918-5360.