New Survey Finds Most Working Americans Unaware of Free, Money-Saving Tools and Tax Credits

United Way's Free Tax Filing Services Help Millions of Taxpayers Save Billions

28 Jan, 2016, 00:01 ET from United Way Worldwide

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Working Americans earning $62,000 or less could be leaving money on the table this tax season. A new national survey shows that 72 percent of working Americans are unaware they qualify for a free tax preparation service that can put more of their hard-earned money back into their pockets. Nearly one third of those surveyed pay someone else to complete their returns.

The survey, conducted for United Way Worldwide, finds that most respondents are unfamiliar with MyFreeTaxes™, an online, mobile-optimized software program allowing free federal and state tax preparation and filing in all 50 states and Washington, DC.  The service is available for anyone earning $62,000 or less. The service, along with United Way's in-person filing assistance program, has helped millions file their returns.

"United Way's free tax preparation assistance has put more than $10 billion back in the hands of hard-working Americans – money that people can use for essentials like their next rent check, utilities, food or even savings," said Stacey D. Stewart, U.S. President, United Way Worldwide.  "With so many families still struggling to get by, we strongly encourage people to take advantage of the free services available to them this tax season."

Limited Awareness of Tax Credits

Many of the 1,000 adults surveyed were unaware of the tax credits they may have earned. Just four in ten adults reported awareness of the Child Tax Credit (CTC), while fewer than 60 percent said they are familiar with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), two of the nation's most effective pro-work, anti-poverty tools. Almost 20 percent were not aware of any tax credits they could access.

Spending Refunds on Critical Needs

Tax refunds help working Americans put money in their pockets for everyday items and save for the future. About 23 percent of those asked say they spend their refunds for food, while 22 percent spend the money on housing costs; 31 percent use their refunds for utilities. A quarter of those who receive refunds put the money into savings or invest the funds for the future.

United Way Can Help With Tax Preparation

Filers can enter data into a secure website, MyFreeTaxes.com, anytime, from anywhere, making it easy to update the documents from home, at work or on mobile devices. The service also includes a helpline, 1-855-MY-TX-HELP, which operates through April 18 from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm EST Monday through Friday and noon to 9:00 pm EST Saturday; staff will continue to provide assistance on a more limited basis through October 15, based on demand. The website also provides a live chat function.

United Way also offers free in-person filing assistance through our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. To find one near you, visit MyFreeTaxes or call 1-855-MY-TX-HELP.

Individuals earning more than $62,000 a year can still use the H&R Block software through the MyFreeTaxes site at a discounted rate.

MyFreeTaxes is provided by United Way, with a grant from the Walmart Foundation. The tax filing software is provided by H&R Block and free tax support is available in English and Spanish by IRS-certified specialists. 

The national public opinion survey was conducted for United Way Worldwide November 18-23, 2015 using Lightspeed GMI online survey. The study was conducted among a national sample of 1,000 American adults with income of $62,000 or below. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the U.S. adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education. The margin of error for the total sample of 1000 adults is +/-4 % with a confidence level of 95 percent.

About United Way Worldwide
With 2.9 million volunteers and 10.3 million donors worldwide, and more than $5 billion raised every year, United Way is the world's largest privately-funded nonprofit. We're engaged in nearly 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create community solutions that improve life for everyone. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For more information about United Way, please visit UnitedWay.org. Follow us on Twitter: @UnitedWay and #LiveUnited

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SOURCE United Way Worldwide



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