Few people look forward to tax season, but this year a local non-profit made it a lot easier to get through it without reaching for the aspirin. For the fourth year running, Chelsea Neighborhood Developers (CND) provided free tax preparation services to local residents.
The free tax preparations sites in Chelsea and Revere were operated by CND with support from the Boston EITC Coalition, the IRS, and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. CND’s trained volunteers prepared free returns for 700 households, returning more than $1.3 M to community residents.
CND’s tax preparation services are provided free of charge to low-income residents, and the experienced volunteers ensure that clients receive every dollar for every eligible tax credit. One of the most popular credits is the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is primarily targeted at working families earning below $49,000 a year. Since the Earned Income Tax Credit is one of a handful of tax credits that are refundable, eligible tax filers whose tax liability is reduced to zero still receive the credit as a part of their refund.
As a free service, each return saves a client an estimated $150 that would have been spent at commercial tax preparation businesses. “The $150 that families save by utilizing our services is money that can be put to use immediately. Our tax preparation program has grown 218% since we began offering it in 2007. The growth is partly due to the current economy, but we’re proud to see residents returning to us each year, knowing that they will receive every dollar they deserve,” said Marissa Guananja, CND’s Director of Asset Development.
The average refund represented about 9% of each household’s total income for the year, and about two thirds of CND’s clients are expected to spend the bulk of their refund at local stores on necessities like food, clothing and other goods and services. With the average refund amounting to about $1,800, those dollars will also provide an ample stimulus to the local economy.