Free Tax Preparation
Free tax preparation is the core service provided by the Boston Tax Help Coalition. Every tax season, the Coalition operates free tax and wealth building services available to all eligible low and moderate-income taxpayers in Boston. Over 400 volunteers are recruited, trained, and IRS certified annually through Boston Tax Help staff and training partners. Approximately 350 active volunteers are placed at one of the 30 free tax sites in targeted Boston neighborhoods. With site coordinator supervision, volunteers meet with over 12,000 clients and prepare their tax returns electronically free of charge. The goal is to maximize the taxpayer’s federal tax dollars and the EITC and other tax credits that otherwise might often go unclaimed.
The Boston Tax Help Coalition’s Ambassador Program was created in 2005 to address the significant number of eligible immigrants who were not utilizing the full potential of the EITC. Eight community leaders act as “Ambassadors” for the Boston Tax Help Coalition by doing outreach to Boston’s new immigrant communities. Each Ambassador is fluent in English and one of seven languages: Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Cape Verdean Creole. Ambassadors receive training in basic personal finances, tax preparation, and community organizing.
Taxpayers with Disabilities
The Boston Tax Help Coalition has been a national leader in the integration of free tax preparation with the needs of the disability community since 2005, when the Coalition joined with the National Disability Institute (NDI), to expand tax and asset building services to taxpayers with disabilities. It was through this partnership that the Coalition’s Disability Initiative was born. This effort has, as its goal, an integrated and inclusive outreach, service delivery and leadership development strategy for taxpayers with disabilities and their advocates throughout the Boston campaign. As of 2014, 15.3% of our taxpayers report a disability, but based on the national estimates, many more taxpayers with disabilities do not know about these opportunities, are misinformed and are not accessing these services.
Financial Check-Up Program
Financial Check-Up aims to maximize the tax encounter by providing a free, individualized financial assessment session for taxpayers at ten of the Coalition’s 30 neighborhood sites. Financial Check-Up includes credit advising with a FICO Score evaluation, access to financial aid advising if needed, and referrals to other services leading to greater financial stability. It has grown from one pilot program in 2012 to eight for 2015. Financial Check-Up provides not only self-help solutions to financial issues but also an option to participate in the Coalition’s year-long, one-on-one financial coaching program.
Financial Coaching Available through the Mayor’s Office of Financial Empowerment
The Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment and the Jewish Vocational Services, eligible Bostonians can obtain free access to a personal financial coach, a career specialist and a whole menu of additional resources, including income supports. To get started, all you need to do is come into the Roxbury Center in Dudley Square or JVS downtown at 75 Federal Street and attend an orientation session. If you are motivated for a long term relationship with the team that will help you identify and work towards your goals—please come see us!