Matt’s Tax Story
Matt Brady, United Way’s Data & Impact Initiatives Manager, coordinates the Lorain County Free Tax Prep Coalition which supports low and moderate-income individuals and families at sites throughout Lorain County. Due to the pandemic, the Coalition switched to a drop-off model to ensure the safety of the community and our volunteers during the extended tax season.
Earlier this year, a woman and her young daughter came in for tax help. As we went through her initial paperwork, the daughter happily and patiently colored in her coloring book. As a newly single parent with three kids, the mom was taking on the challenge of doing her family’s taxes for the first time and didn’t have the means to hire an accountant.
Chatting as I prepared her taxes, she told me about how much her life had changed recently. Prior to her divorce, she was a stay-at-home mom with little work experience. With no financial support, including child support, from her ex-husband, she worked hard to cobble together two part-time jobs to try to make ends meet. She was only able to bring home about $16,000 last year, during this really challenging transitional period.
I completed her tax return and told her the refund amount: $9,000. She stared at me with a blank face. She asked me to repeat it. I reassured her that it was accurate and explained the Earned Income Tax Credit, a tax break for hardworking low-income parents. The reality hit her and she just burst into tears. Her daughter looked worried and asked what was wrong, but once she was able to compose herself enough to say anything the woman reassured her, "no honey, these are happy tears."
I've never seen a person so happy to get their taxes done, and honestly I don't think I've ever seen someone happier and more grateful in general.
Our Tax Prep volunteers are trained & certified by the IRS to prepare taxes and provide tax education. With a higher accuracy rate than many paid preparers, they also save eligible families over $500,000 in tax filing fees. Interested in joining our team of volunteers for next season? Visit uwloraincounty.org/volunteer for more information.