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Erie FREE Taxes Achieves Record Results

Erie FREE Taxes Achieves Record Results

Returns more than $6.6 million to local taxpayers

ERIE, PA (May 16, 2013) - It was a banner year for United Way Erie FREE Taxes, as more people in Erie County than ever before took advantage of free tax preparation at volunteer tax sites and also claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Erie FREE Taxes is a program that helps low to moderate wage earners keep more of their hard-earned money by providing them with free tax preparation and filing services while helping eligible filers claim the EITC, a federal cash refund credit.

“Erie FREE Taxes VITA Program provides thousands of eligible tax filers with an important money-saving alternative to the high cost of commercial tax preparer businesses,” said Cheryl Bates, Program Director of United Way Erie FREE Taxes. “What’s equally important is that the Earned Income Tax Credit supplements lower wage incomes which plays a critical role in helping them, and their families, move toward economic self-sufficiency.”

Erie FREE Taxes returned more than $6,682,000 in income tax refunds this year including over $2.7 million in earned income-tax credits. These dollars provide an important economic boost to families as well as local businesses. Growth in the program is significant: the amount of income tax refunds increased 20 percent over 2012 while earned income- tax credit refunds increased 13 percent over the previous year.

This year, Erie FREE Taxes prepared 3,979 federal tax returns, up 19 percent from 2012, and saved local tax filers approximately $883,300 in tax preparation fees. In total, 1,495 local tax filers received earned income-tax credit refunds through Erie FREE Taxes, an increase of 13 percent from the previous year.

The rise in numbers is due, in part, to a large increase in the number of volunteer tax preparers and expanded marketing efforts. Erie FREE Taxes began as a project of The Erie Community Foundation and is now run by United Way of Erie County, with significant funding still provided from The Erie Community Foundation.

About United Way of Erie County:
United Way is a leader in reducing poverty in Erie County by creating opportunities in the building blocks for good life: Education, Income and Health. United Way is directing its resources to reduce poverty in Erie County by 2025. Additional information about United Way of Erie County and its programs and initiatives can be found at UnitedWayErie.org.

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