Achieving Financial Stability
As many as one-third of working Americans do not earn enough money to meet their basic needs. Wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of housing, healthcare, and education, and, currently, 40 million Americans are working in low-paying jobs without basic health and retirement benefits. For families walking a financial tightrope, unable to save for college, a home, or retirement, United Way is here to help.
37,000 individuals in Anderson County live in poverty, and another 40,000 struggle to make ends meet on a day-to-day basis.
Today, fewer people are able to own their own homes. Home ownership has decreased over the past 10 years.
Through a series of community meetings with local residents, safe homes, and neighborhoods, along with a stable income were identified as a key priority issues for families in Anderson County.
To address the obstacles that prevent hard working families from getting ahead financially, we launched the United Way Financial Stability Center at AIM, an initiative that promotes community-change strategies to help families meet their basic needs, while gaining the financial capability to plan for, and accomplish, their long-term financial goals.
Increase neighborhood safety.
Help families secure affordable housing.
Assist adults in gaining employment leading to stable income.
In partnership with AIM, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides free income tax assistance to over 1,000 individuals and families across our county.
Sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), VITA provides free income tax preparation assistance to individuals and families with a household income of approximately $60,000 a year or less. In addition to providing free tax preparation, VITA works to ensure everyone in the community receives all of the tax credits and deductions for which they are eligible. The program is supported by volunteers.
Many in our community don’t have access to affordable tax preparation services or are unaware of programs like Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that could put thousands of dollars back in their hands and into our local economy. VITA helps taxpayers obtain valuable and eligible tax credits and deductions, especially EITC, Child Tax Credit, Education Tax Credits and Child Care tax deductions. We also address more complicated aspects of tax law such as the Affordable Care Act and education credits and deductions. Anyone who files a basic tax return (Available services) can have taxes prepared at one of the VITA sites. In addition to access to these credits and deductions, taxpayers also save by avoiding the high cost of paid tax preparation.
In 2018, the VITA coalition (which includes United Ways of Greenville, Pickens, Spartanburg, Anderson, Oconee, and Laurens counties) prepared more than 12,100 tax returns, saving $2.4 million in tax preparation fees and bringing approximately $14.2 million in tax refunds to the Upstate.
With this growing coalition, including faith-based, public and private organizations, our goal is to help more individuals and families achieve greater financial stability with our free tax preparation services.
For more information contact the United Way Financial Stability Center at AIM, 864-226-2273.