BEND, Ore. - For most Central Oregon residents, tax season is officially over. The benefit to our local communities, however, will likely continue for many months to come if not into the next tax season.
Individuals and families who received free tax preparation assistance through the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program frequently received the much-needed financial boost they need to get them through rough economic times. But what many may not consider is the impact those return dollars have on our local economy.
"This year, the VITA program returned more than $1.2 million to Central Oregon residents," said Pat McGuinness, programs manager for United Way of Deschutes County. "Those dollars are spent on everything from children's clothing to utility payments, rent, education expenses, and transportation costs, which means that monies spent also positively impact our local economies.
This year, the VITA program facilitated tax preparation sites in Bend, Redmond and Prineville. The average adjusted gross income for those assisted was $20,039. The Earned Income Credit and Child Tax Credit substantially impacted the large dollar amounts returned to taxpayers explained McGuinness.
United Way of Deschutes County this year worked in cooperation with Partnership to End Poverty (PEP) to facilitate a smooth transfer of the program from PEP to UWDC. The Partnership has, for the past five years, built and run the program but will be dissolving as of December 2013.
Overall, UWDC is proud to have facilitated the preparation of 1,029 returns: a 37 percent increase over last year's tax preparation numbers. "We couldn't have done this without the help of our 23 IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers and the in-kind support of several organizations and agencies throughout Central Oregon," said Ken Wilhelm, Executive Director for UWDC.
About United Way of Deschutes County
Since 1953, United Way of Deschutes County has been helping people in our community to improve their lives and build a better community by tapping into the caring power of people and organizations. United Way systematically identifies unmet needs and critical issues, and brings together people and resources to address them. With the help of corporate, employee and individual donations, United Way touches one-in-three people in our community each year through programs that focus on our most urgent human service needs: helping kids get a great start in life, keeping youth on track for success, meeting basic needs of individuals and families, and keeping children and families safe from violence and abuse. For more information call 541-389-6507 or visit www.deschutesunitedway.org.