Depending on whether you like to get things done right away or are a procrastinator, tax season is right around the corner. Soon you’ll be gathering your W2s, trying to understand investment documents, and – if you’re lucky – thinking about what to do with your refund.
For many people, however, these are luxuries. Low-income Americans are more likely to be thinking about paying the rent or picking up an extra shift. Their ability to save and invest is limited at best.
In our community, I meet people who need help to improve their financial situations. Sometimes that means finding a training program that leads to a raise or a better-paying job. Other times, it means finding new ways to save for a car just to get to that job.
Tax season is a particularly good time for all of us to think about how we can improve our finances – and help others do so as well. And at United Way – where we believe that every person in every community deserves to have the opportunity to succeed – we’re hard at work making financial stability a reality for more people.
United Way works with a range of partners to help families improve their finances. United Way partners with H&R Block on MyFreeTaxes, which helps individuals making $64,000 or less prepare and file their federal and states taxes for free. We continue to explore new initiatives aimed to lessen the financial burden and make it easier for families to plan ahead.
We’re proud of our results to date. In 2017, 339 tax returns were prepared at the Jackson County Public Library by 16 volunteers. Since the program started in 2010, JCUW has helped Jackson County residents claim $1,856,282 in federal and state returns.
As we prepare for tax season (even though it is August), I encourage all of us to take a minute to do two things. First, step back and think about your own finances. Then, think about your wider community and see how you can support others who might need a hand with their finances. Helping others is a tremendously rewarding experience that helps to build stronger communities that benefit us all.