CINCINNATI (May 5, 2023) – Dayle Newman looks for ways to protect his hard-earned money.
"Rent went up, (the cost of) clothes went up, food went up. It's kind of hard. But I'm a cost cutter," said Dayle, who works in manufacturing.
For the last several years, he has avoided tax preparation fees by taking advantage of United Way's Free Tax Prep service. Its IRS-certified volunteers also ensure he gets the tax credits he deserves.
During tax season, volunteers helped Dayle and thousands of other taxpayers file 7,087 returns at about 40 Free Tax Prep sites in the Cincinnati metro region. Dayle received services at the Madisonville Recreation Center site.
The service saved local taxpayers more than $2.1 million in tax preparation fees, based on commercial preparers charging about $300 per return. Taxpayers using Free Tax Prep also received nearly $8.7 million in refunds, including more than $2.2 million in Earned Income Tax Credit.
"By getting the refunds they deserve and avoiding tax preparation fees, many low-to-moderate-income taxpayers can remain financially stable," said Moira Weir, President and CEO of United Way. "The money saved and the refunds received can be used to cover essential items or set aside for emergencies. Or that money might help pay for college tuition or a down payment on a house."
Getting a refund is important to Dayle. "I rely on it every year. I try to put it away for a rainy day."
Schone Walker, a private duty caregiver who has relied on Free Tax Prep for about four years, takes comfort in knowing the volunteers are knowledgeable about the latest tax laws so she doesn't have to be. "It takes the worry off your shoulders," she said. "I trust the volunteers 100%."
Walker's taxes were prepared by Doug Becker, a retired airline pilot from Anderson Township who has been a Free Tax Prep volunteer for seven years.
"There are a zillion (volunteer) opportunities," Becker said, "but sometimes you feel like you're not really contributing. Free Tax Prep is direct, one-on-one. I know I'm helping this person."
Ivonne Dominguez greatly appreciated the help she received. She and her 5-year-old son patiently waited while a volunteer prepared her taxes at the Madisonville Rec Center.
A native of Mexico, she recently was granted permanent residency and works as a caregiver for seniors. In past years, her son's father filed the taxes. After the couple separated, the responsibility fell to Ivonne.
"I can barely pay the taxes. How am I going to pay a tax preparer?" she said. She worried about being scammed. Then she learned about United Way's Free Tax Prep.
"They helped me. They got me as much refund as they could. It was important to receive the money. At that time, I had no money. That helped me buy things I needed – clothes and my car payment. It was a relief."
With its dedicated donors, staff and partners, United Way of Greater Cincinnati brings new voices and solutions to decades-old challenges so more families in our community thrive.
As the community catalyst, UWGC drives change through investments, influence and filling gaps in services to create lasting change for families today and for future generations.
UWGC does this by focusing on six investment portfolios: Housing First, NextGen Success, Equitable Economic Mobility, Improved Prevention/Stronger Communities, Ready Kids/Resilient Families and Responding to Community Needs.
Learn more about UWGC’s work underway in nine counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and how you can be part of our collective community impact at UWGC.org. #LiveUnited