United Way Free Tax Prep sites help citizens “see the light” at the end of a financial tunnel

After years of problems with filing his taxes, Nicholas Baudean felt like he was walking deeper into an ever-expanding tunnel with no lights to show him the way out.

Years of not filing and attempting to get help from tax businesses that charged large fees almost had Baudean losing hope until an IRS employee told him about United Way’s Free Tax Prep sites and trained VITA volunteers who assist people with filing their taxes without cost.

Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day

United Way’s Free Tax Prep sites gave citizens opportunities to resolve serious tax problems.

Baudean met with preparers at the Free Tax Prep site at the Cossitt Library in downtown Memphis, which was specializing in helping current year late tax filers and filing from multiple years.

“It was an invaluable service to me because I had not filed in nine years,” Baudean said. “I had tried to file with traditional tax preparers –  I even tried to fix it all on my own. I was trying to come out of this dark tunnel that I had gotten myself into, but couldn’t see any light to find my way out. Then I was pointed to the United Way free help sites.”

Brenda Clark went to the site to file an amended tax form. She said the service was wonderful, and was happy that after trying many other outlets, she was able to get her taxes amended thanks to help from a VITA volunteer.

“I am so grateful to these volunteers. Without them, I would be in a bad situation. Taxes are important, because you’re dealing with the government. I had to get mine adjusted,” she said.

Some filers shared stories of relief, happy that years of not filing or misfiling were now corrected, with no cost for the help or filing fees, thanks to a Free Tax Prep site.

“My life went through a lot of changes in nine years, and they were very helpful to me, making sure each and every year was filed correctly,” Baudean said. “I am really thankful for the VITA volunteers, the Free Tax Prep sites and United Way.”

01FreeTaxPrepSignImproving financial stability is a key priority for our United Way. By providing free help with filing taxes and making sure citizens properly use the Earned Income Tax Credit and other parts of the tax code, Free Tax Prep sites can make sure people are getting the full refund they deserve. Sometimes, the refund can help citizens catch up with overdue utilities, pay the rent, or keep a car running. In a few cases, the refund can be large enough to help make a down payment on a home – one of the essential steps in achieving greater financial independence. At most Free Tax Prep sites, volunteers can also help steer people to tools and information about home finances budgeting, opening a bank account and other essential steps to having a stronger financial future.

Free Tax Prep sites bring millions of dollars in refunds to the Mid-South, which helps make a difference for our local economy. Sites traditionally begin to open in December, and stay open through the tax season. A “late filing” station remains open until late June.

Your support of United Way makes these sites and other programs available without cost for citizens across our area. It makes a difference for our common good.

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