City of Boston and Boston Tax Help Coalition kick off 2020 free tax preparation services
Jan 31, 2020
Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Boston Tax Help Coalition and other community partners yesterday encouraged Boston residents to take advantage of free tax preparation services available at more than 30 sites across the Boston area during an event at Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) in Roxbury. The services help residents who earn $56,000 or less per year claim the full refunds they are due.
"The free tax services provided by the Boston Tax Help Coalition are a fantastic opportunity for hard-working residents to save money," said Mayor Walsh. "The services help taxpayers avoid the costs of for-profit tax preparation agencies while still claiming cash back on their tax returns. These savings can provide a critical boost to a family’s financial health."
Last year, the Coalition served nearly 13,000 taxpayers and enlisted hundreds of IRS-certified volunteers to return $24 million in refunds and credits directly to taxpayers. This effort lifted 12 percent of taxpayers over the poverty line. Of particular benefit, the Coalition’s preparers assess taxpayers’ eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a credit for low- and middle-income workers. In 2019, the average EITC amount was $2,400. Yet, according to the Internal Revenue Service, an estimated one in five EITC-eligible workers fail to claim this valuable credit each year.
In addition to tax preparation, the Coalition provides clients with other services to improve their financial health. For example, the Coalition connects taxpayers to Bank On Boston, an initiative launched by Mayor Walsh that helps residents identify banking services that are safe, affordable, and non-predatory. Trained financial guides also offer taxpayers the Financial Check-Up, a key component of Boston Builds Credit, the City's free credit building program. A Financial Check-Up is a one-on-one session in which a taxpayer can review his or her credit score and obtain personalized credit-building strategies. A new funder of this work is the SunTrust Foundation, which this year provided a $50,000 grant to support Boston’s credit-building programs.
Managed by the Mayor's Office of Financial Empowerment, the Boston Tax Help Coalition works to increase accessibility to its free tax services through its ambassadors, who are fluent in English and one of eight languages: Arabic, American Sign Language (ASL), Cape Verdean Creole, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish and Vietnamese. The ambassadors are trained in basic personal finances, tax preparation, and community organizing. They conduct outreach to Boston’s cultural communities, translate marketing materials, and interpret at tax sites as needed.
About the Mayor’s Office of Financial Empowerment
Mayor Martin J. Walsh formed the Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) in 2014 to connect City residents with access to credit building programs, financial education, individualized financial coaching, and income support. Residents who seek to improve their financial situation can use these tools to achieve economic well-being and pursue financial prosperity. OFE is also a lead partner on Boston Builds Credit, the first municipal credit building program in the United States. OFE is an affiliate of the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development and the Boston Planning & Development Agency.