United Way of the Columbia-Willamette (UWCW) and CASH Oregon are partnering this tax season to increase the number of Oregonians receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
EITC gives low-income working families a much-needed financial boost. In 2013, the federal EITC lifted about 9.4 million people across the country out of poverty, including 5 million children. Yet a surprising number of families who qualify for the tax credit aren’t claiming it. Last year working families in Oregon missed out on over $124 million in tax refunds and the state ranks last in EITC participation.
“Tax season is a source of confusion and stress for most families,” said Sarah Adams, executive director of CASH Oregon. “Many are worried they’ll make a mistake, won’t get their full refund or will pay too much to file.”
Through a United Way Worldwide national initiative, UWCW and CASH Oregon are working together to raise awareness of EITC and increase access to free tax preparation services. Last year UWCW and partners helped over 18,122 working families receive more than $21.6 million in tax credits for food, rent and other basic needs.
“We want to be sure everyone who is eligible can access these services,” said Keith Thomajan, President and CEO of UWCW. “The average EITC return in 2017 in Oregon was $2,000, and that can make the difference for many families between financial viability and poverty.”
The initiative is supported by H&R Block and their website MyFreeTaxes.com, an online portal where individuals or families earning $66,000 or less can file their state and federal taxes for free. Over the last nine years nearly a million people have filed their returns via MyFreeTaxes and generated more than $1 billion in refunds back to local communities.
New this year, UWCW and CASH Oregon are also teaming up for focused EITC campaigns with several corporate partners including Key Bank, Pendleton Woolen Mills, Burgerville USA and others. By delivering tailored communications directly to thousands of employees the campaign aims to increase the number of filers and EITC participants.
"We're proud to partner with United Way of the Columbia-Willamette and CASH Oregon in promoting free tax assistance," said John Bishop, CEO of Pendleton Woolen Mills. "By raising awareness of MyFreeTaxes.com and the Earned Income Tax Credit, we're helping many of our employees and their families file their taxes quickly and safely while also receiving the tax credits they deserve."
To learn more about free tax preparation services in the region visit https://www.unitedway-pdx.org/free-tax-prep-assistance
About United Way of the Columbia-Willamette
At United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, we have a simple, ambitious vision – to invest in our region’s kids so they are free from poverty in order to be free to reach their potential. United Way of the Columbia-Willamette has been bringing our community together to do good for nearly 100 years. We’re uniquely positioned to connect and support the people, nonprofits, businesses and government agencies working hard to address poverty in our region. When we invest in our region’s kids, we free the future.
About CASH Oregon
CASH Oregon, through our partnership with AARP Tax-Aide, supports free tax preparation and tax credit outreach in 32 counties in the State of Oregon at over 135 tax sites. Visit www.cashoregon.org or call 2-1-1 to find one near you. Through our partnership with Intuit and HR Block, you can e-file your taxes online for free, visit www.cashoregon.org/file-taxes-online/ to get started.