What is “Earn It Keep It Save It” (EKS) and why is it important?
In concert with United Way of Southern Nevada’s Impact Area of Financial Stability, the “Earn It Keep It Save It” collaborative provides free tax preparation, helping families whose household income is less than $52,000 access the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other federal tax credits. Through a general grant from the IRS and matched funding from local partners, United Way supports roughly 22 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites across the Las Vegas Valley. VITA sites are staffed by IRS trained and certified volunteers who prepare tax returns at no cost to qualifying individuals and families. Families earning this credit use their refund for immediate needs, such as rent, food and bill assistance, yet many put their refund into savings for college, a house, or an emergency fund for the long term.
Why are the United Way “Earn It Keep It Save It” sites a better alternative than other “free” tax prep places?
The United Way, in partnership with the IRS and the “Earn It Keep It Save It” collaborative have been providing high quality free tax preparation services for 6 years now. This time of year, many predatory and “fly-by-night” places offering “free” tax preparation emerge, many which lack the right credentials or that operate with unethical practices, ultimately hurting the individual. We offer this service so that individuals and families have access to this benefit, and can build their savings and repay debts so that they can have a more financially stable future. We also want to protect our community from these predatory practices by offering a service that is IRS certified but also allows individuals and families who qualify to claim tax credits that can bolster their return.
How did “Earn It Keep It Save It” impact Southern Nevada in 2013?
- 6,287 individuals and families received free tax preparation
- The program saved the community an estimated $1.1 million in preparation and filing fees
- $8.7 million in refunds was brought back to the community by hundreds of dedicated volunteers
- Hard-working, low-income families received $2.8 million in EITC
- Over $5.9 million was brought back in federal tax credits that provided low-income families, seniors and students with a financial boost they desperately needed.
When can I come?
- Tax season starts January 31, 2014. Click here for locations and times near you.
What is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?
- The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is one of the nation’s most effective anti-poverty programs. An EITC refund helps pay the rent, buy groceries, cover utility bills and builds savings for future needs.
- The EITC is a financial boost for hard-working people, particularly those suffering in a recovering economy. However, many hard-hit families may not even know that this vital credit exists when, in fact, millions of workers will qualify for the EITC for the first time this year.
Nevadans have received an average EITC worth $2,280 for each taxpayer who claimed the credit. The EITC can be worth as much as $5,891 for a family with three children.
See the benefits of United Way’s service in action
Sandra didn’t know what to expect when she arrived at the United Way “Earn It Keep It Save It” Super Saturday at Heinrich YMCA on March 16, 2013. The single mom of nine-year-old son David knows what it’s like to struggle. The breadwinner for her family, Sandra’s mom also lives at her home. Last year, Sandra went through foreclosure and bankruptcy due to circumstances beyond her control. Finding help getting your taxes done when you have a foreclosure or a bankruptcy is a daunting process. She checked all around town and found that most places charged around $300 for those in situations like hers. “Who can afford to pay $300 to get their taxes done?” said Sandra. “I am living paycheck to paycheck.”
Then one day Sandra’s mom heard about the free tax preparation that United Way offered on 8 News NOW. Sandra and her mom decided to check out the event. “I loved it!” said Sandra. “I was happy that they were able to do my taxes for free. A gentleman took his time and was very helpful.”
Sandra could not believe the amount of money she will receive in her return. “I will get $3,000 back and I thought I would have to pay!” said Sandra. Sandra’s plans for her return include paying the bills and setting some of the money aside. “I am trying to play catch up,” said Sandra. “It was a huge relief that took a large burden off my shoulders.” Sandra plans to save $1,000 to take her son David to New York. “I want him to see where me and my family grew up and take him to some Broadway shows and let him eat the great food in New York.”
Individuals and families must have a household annual income of $52,000 or less to be eligible for the “Earn It Keep It Save It” free tax preparation program and can file for tax year 2013 or for years past.