In two years, United Way-led collaborative has increased tax refund totals by one-third, supporting 17 percent more families, resulting in more tax dollars staying in Orange County
Irvine, CA — Orange County United Way today announced that 17,539 residents participated in the OC Free Tax Prep Campaign this year, claiming $15,524,032 in federal and state tax refunds and credits.
The Campaign led by United Way, includes over 400 IRS-certified tax volunteers who serve at more than 52 tax sites across Orange County. These include nonprofit centers, senior centers and schools.
Residents earning less than $60,000 a year are eligible to take part in the program geared toward reducing their tax burden and maximizing refunds available to them. Many families struggling to make ends meet don’t even know that programs like this exist and leave significant amounts of tax dollars on the table that they could be utilizing to support their family.
“So many families sadly miss out on millions of dollars in unclaimed federal tax refunds each year by not claiming their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC),” explained Brenyale Toomer-Byas, Director, Housing and Income, at Orange County United Way. “These savings can help families by freeing up budget resources to pay bills and help eliminate other household expenses.”
A Key Tool for Struggling OC Families on the Road to Financial Stability
The ultimate goal of this collaborative is to ensure that more Orange County residents get on the road to financial stability, a key element in United Way’s FACE 2024 communitywide action plan launched two years ago.
Since that time, countywide statistics show more and more residents continue to struggle. Despite the growing economy, the opportunity gap has widened due to the increasingly disproportionate cost of living to income ratio, in particular, higher housing costs. In addition, while salaries have increased for higher wage occupations, they have decreased for those on the lower end of the income spectrum.
That’s why programs like this are critical tools in the arsenal for those passionately fighting for financial stability in our county.
“The EITC has lifted more children out of poverty than any other public program,” said Toomer-Byas. “We believe that giving residents these tools to achieve financial stability will help to achieve our goal of reducing the percentage of financially unstable families by 25 percent by 2024.”
Strong Results, Local Impact
Since 2014, the number of Orange County residents served by the program has increased by nearly 17 percent and the dollar amount in tax refunds jumped by one-third.
Additionally, this year more than $4.4 million was claimed for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) alone, a refund of up to $6,242 on federal tax returns for those earning less than $53,267. This is along with the CalEITC, a new State Earned Income Tax Credit that puts up to $2,653 back in the pockets of qualified working families and individuals with three or more children, who made less than $13,870 last year. Finally, it’s estimated that residents saved $3.19 million on preparation fees by filing their taxes for free.
All of this means a significant boost in household income for eligible families and individuals and a stimulus for the county’s economy.
“These are tax dollars that will stay right here in Orange County and will be invested back into our local economy,” concluded Toomer-Byas. “This economic impact is further enhanced when you consider that as more and more families take advantage of financial tools like the OC Free Tax Prep Campaign, we’ll see a greater number of families benefiting from the much needed credits.”
To learn more about United Way’s income goals and strategies to promote greater financial stability for Orange County families, visit http://www.unitedwayoc.org/income.
Katherine Ransom, Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Orange County United Way 949.263.6176, firstname.lastname@example.org
21Strat 949.981.5008, email@example.com
ABOUT ORANGE COUNTY UNITED WAY:
Since 1924, Orange County United Way has been working to improve lives and strengthen our community by mobilizing the caring power of Orange County and focusing on the building blocks for a good quality of life: Education, Income, Health and Housing. By investing in Orange County children, families and individuals, we help them create pathways to self-sufficient lives. In short, we help people help themselves. Through our 10-year community-wide action plan, FACE 2024 (an acronym for Fund, Advocate, Collaborate, Educate), we collaborate with local businesses, community organizations, governmental agencies and individuals to make a long-term measurable difference in the lives of local individuals and families. To learn more or to join our movement, visit www.unitedwayoc.org.