How Policies Impact Low-Income Families: Greater Returns from Tax Time

Stephanie is a teacher’s assistant and single mom. She has a lot on her plate, but tax time helps her make it financially manageable. In fact, the tax refunds she receives are critical to her family’s continued success.

For the past three years, Stephanie has been a passionate client of Prepare + Prosper, a key Prosperity Now partner. The organization has been providing Stephanie with financial assistance and free tax filing services through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

“My tax refund makes all the difference for me and my family,” said Stephanie. “Because of tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit, I’ve been able to pay off my debt and save. I was without a car for a year. After I paid for repairs, I was able to build an emergency savings account to help me the next time something like that happens.”

The volunteers at Prepare + Prosper found other tax credits Stephanie didn’t know she and her family qualified for, including the Minnesota K-12 Education Credit. They helped Stephanie open a savings account at Firefly Credit Union to support her savings. They also helped Stephanie access and review her credit report, which led to a better understanding of her student loans and a new payment plan that enabled her to climb out of debt.

Stephanie has since taught her teenage son the value of saving, and they are now both working to save for his college education.

In 2015, Prosperity Now led a coalition of 700 members of our Taxpayer Opportunity Network, which includes Prepare + Prosper, to advocate for the $3 million increase to the VITA program. As a result, VITA sites across the country will file returns for 500,000 more taxpayers like Stephanie, helping them secure an additional $550 million in savings through the Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax programs.

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