Partners (Number 2, 2007)

Free Tax Sites Generate Refunds for Nashville Families

free tax sites graphicThanks to free tax preparation and the Earned Income Tax Credit, more than 6,000 low- and moderate-income families throughout Nashville received a total of more than $9 million in federal tax refunds this past tax season.

The Nashville Wealth Building Alliance (NWBA) sponsored 13 tax preparation assistance sites, plus a mobile unit that traveled to several nonprofit organizations and local employers to provide help for households earning $40,000 or less.

Thanks to the work of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites:

  • 6,213 returns were filed through all VITA sites, a 6 percent increase over 2006;
  • $8,946,529 in Federal refunds were due to VITA site clients, a 4 percent increase over 2006;
  • $3,009,283 in Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refunds were tallied, a 7 percent increase over 2006.

Each VITA client also received a free "Financial Stability Resource Guide," which provides a comprehensive listing of the free or affordable asset-building services in Nashville. VITA clients were encouraged to call 2-1-1 to get a free, one-hour financial consultation which includes a customized budget and goal assessment as well as information about resources for further help.

NWBA extends its reach through new partners
The Nashville Wealth Building Alliance works with numerous companies and organizations to broaden its outreach and educational efforts. This year, their collaborations produced:

  • Four new VITA sites, including an employer-sponsored VITA site at Tyson Foods that offered services in 9 different languages.
  • A new partnership with Tennessee's Department of Human Services, which sponsored the NWBA's largest VITA site and implemented EITC outreach to Families First and food stamp clients.
  • A new partnership with a local company, Blevins Inc., to provide a free-standing VITA site in a low-income area.
  • A new partnership with Vanderbilt University to establish a VITA site and site coordinator to target Vanderbilt students and employees.
  • A 76 percent increase in calls to United Way's 2-1-1 call center in Nashville/Davidson County about the hours and location of VITA sites.

Economic ripple extends to Nashville economy
The EITC is arguably the most effective anti-poverty program in America and lifts more children out of poverty than any single federal program or combination of federal programs. It provides one of the best opportunities for working families to put money into savings, which is an important step towards helping them achieve greater financial stability.

An economic impact study sponsored by the NWBA found that EITC is not only a benefit for the working family claiming the credit, but also a boost for the Nashville economy.

"The 'ripple effect' from EITC refunds spent in Nashville produces millions of dollars each year in economic stimulus, creates hundreds of jobs due to increased demand for products and services purchased with EITC refunds, and reduces poverty within our local community," said Congressman Jim Cooper (5th District, Tennessee). Congressman Cooper is one of the founding members of the NWBA.

NWBA is a broad-based coalition of government, nonprofits, churches and businesses working together to help low- and moderate-income individuals and families throughout Nashville/Davidson County to build and maintain financial stability. Sponsors include: Blevins Inc.; Bank of America; Regions Bank; Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS); Tyson Foods Inc.; the Bank of Nashville; US Community Credit Union, and David & Adrienne Piston. United Way of Metropolitan Nashville is a leading partner of the NWBA.

This article was written by Rachel Freeze, Nashville Wealth Building Alliance manager at United Way Nashville.

2007 Season Results
# filing returns 6,243  
Total federal refunds claimed $8,946,529  
Total Earned Income Tax Credit $3,009,283  
# claiming Earned Income Tax Credit 1,678 29.12%
Total child & dependent care credit $117,568  
# claiming child & dependent care credit 257 4.46%
Total child tax credit $1,925,230  
# claiming child tax credit $1,483 25.74%
Total education credit $283,747  
# claiming education credit 378 6.56%
# claiming unemployment compensation 270 4.69%
# with positive tax amounts 3,498 60.71%
# with positive federal refund amounts 5,133 89.08%
# using direct deposit (federal tax) 3,075 59.91%
# federal returns filed (electronic) 5,154 89.45%
Median Adjusted Gross Income $20,078  
# with agi > $37,263 717 12.44%
Source: Nashville Wealth Building Alliance