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Date: May 2017

The EITC & Free Tax Help: Boosting Family Financial Security

Brooke Visser

For more than 25 years, The Piton Foundation has been conducting the Tax Credits for Working Families Public Information Campaign to raise awareness about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other credits that help lower income, working families get ahead. As a complement to its outreach campaign, Piton launched the Tax Help Colorado program in 2007 to provide free tax preparation services to families, helping to better connect them to the EITC while alleviating the cost of visiting commercial tax preparers. 

This year, Tax Help Colorado operated 23 free tax sites at colleges and high schools across the state, helping 7,862 people claim over $14.4 million in total refunds, including more than $4.5 million from the EITC. In addition, the program saved families approximately $2 million in paid preparation fees this tax season.

Wendy: Saving For the Unexpected

Wendy is one of many Coloradans who rely on their tax refunds to help their families make ends meet. As a single mother, Wendy works as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) to support her three children. The average annual salary for a CNA in Colorado is $31,000, which qualifies Wendy for the EITC and Child Tax Credit. This year, she is receiving nearly $9,000 in refunds, including about $4,000 from the EITC and $3,000 from the Child Tax Credit. 

Wendy says she is using her tax refund to buy clothes and food, cover her children’s school expenses and help boost her savings to prepare for the unexpected throughout the year. “I make it stretch,” she says. “My refund helps me get through the year because I don’t make enough with my job.” In addition to receiving her tax refund, Wendy was able to save money by visiting Tax Help Colorado’s inaugural Taxathon event at Mile High United Way. Rather than spending an average of $250 on paid tax services, Wendy’s taxes were filed for free by IRS-certified volunteers who specialize in ensuring eligible families receive the EITC. “It’s worth it,” she says. “I can use the money that I would have spent on tax services for rent or car payments.” 

Tax Help Colorado serves families with household incomes less than $54,000 a year. However, the average tax site client’s income is around $20,000, which is just above the poverty line for a family of three living in Colorado. For many, their tax refund is the biggest sum of money they receive all year. 

Download the full article to learn more about how families are benefitting from the EITC and free tax help.