[News Advisory] Third Annual “Taxathon,” 400+ Tax Returns and $700,000 in Tax Refunds Expected

Prepare + Prosper launches tax season with 24-hour free tax prep marathon to result in taxpayers claiming Earned Income Tax Credit and Minnesota Working Family Credit

Media Advisory/Photo-op

Contact:
Stacy Opitz, Prepare + Prosper, 651-262-2162, stacy@prepareandprosper.org

WHAT:
Prepare + Prosper is hosting its third annual “Taxathon” at the peak of tax season to provide free tax and financial services to low- and moderate-income individuals and families. The two-day event is expected to result in more than $700,000 in “claimed” tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Working Family Credit. The event is part of a state-wide awareness campaign called “Claim It!” to promote free tax services, funded by Greater Twin Cities United Way.

WHEN:
Friday, February 9, 2018 (Day 1)

8:45 a.m. – 8:59 a.m.  – Taxathon Kick-Off Event – includes remarks from leaders from Greater Twin Cities United Way, Minnesota Department of Revenue, Internal Revenue Service, and Prepare + Prosper along with volunteers and tax filers and ends with a countdown to launch the Taxathon.

9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Friday –– Taxathon volunteer preparers work for 12 hours

Saturday, February 10, 2018 (Day 2)
9 a.m. – 9 p.m. – Taxathon volunteer tax prep continues for 12 hours

WHERE:

Prepare + Prosper (located in the Court West Building)
2610 University Ave. W., Lower Level
St. Paul, MN 55114

MORE:
Interview opportunities with volunteer tax preparers, taxpayers, and leadership. Follow Prepare + Prosper (@PrepareProsper) and Greater Twin Cities United Way (@UnitedWayTC, #huMNkind) on Twitter using the hashtag #taxathon.

About Claim it! –Claim it!, managed by Prepare + Prosper and funded by Greater Twin Cities United Way, is a statewide public awareness campaign to promote the Earned Income Tax Credit and free tax preparation for hardworking Minnesotans. For more information, call 651-262-2160.

About Prepare + Prosper – Prepare + Prosper is a nonprofit focused on building brighter financial futures for low- to moderate-income individuals and families. It provides free tax preparation; financial services, products, and coaching; and works to advance policies and practices that directly benefit the people it serves. In 2016, 534 volunteers prepared taxes for 12,609 taxpayers who received $24.7 million in refunds; 984 of those taxpayers committed to saving $1.54 million of their refunds. For more information, visit www.prepareandprosper.org, Facebook, and Twitter.

About Greater Twin Cities United Way – With one in four people living in poverty in the nine-county region, Greater Twin Cities United Way fights to end poverty and support long-term wellbeing by providing access to food, shelter and healthcare; education; and jobs. When we support wellbeing, we ensure everyone can reach their potential and fully contribute to our community. We do this by bringing together the public, private and nonprofit sectors to solve the community’s most pressing needs. Through partnerships, public policy work, volunteer programs, our 2-1-1 hotline, grant making and nonprofit leadership support, we take a holistic, long-term approach to help people meet their potential. That’s because we know when more of us reach our potential, our whole community benefits. For more information, visit www.gtcuw.org, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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[News Release] File Your Taxes for Free at Prepare + Prosper

Nonprofit offers free tax preparation and financial services during the 2018 tax season

St. Paul – January 18, 2018 -- With tax season right around the corner, Prepare + Prosper (P+P) encourages low- and moderate-income individuals and families to save money this tax season by filing their taxes for free to get their maximum refund.

From January 20 until April 14, P+P’s IRS-certified volunteers work one-on-one with taxpayers to help them claim all the credits they’ve earned. The nonprofit also provides financial services to help people save some of their refund, get connected to financial coaching, and answer money-related questions.

“Tax time is a money moment for individuals and families with low and moderate incomes,” said Tracy Fischman, P+P executive director. “For 47 years, we’ve been providing high-quality, free tax preparation and financial services to help people maximize their tax refund’s impact on their financial future.”

Like last year, federal tax refunds will take longer for those receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) due to a law passed in 2016, the PATH Act. In mid-February, the IRS will begin processing refunds that include the EITC and ACTC, and federal refunds are expected to appear in bank accounts during the last week of February.

Additionally, tax reform passed at the end of 2017 will not affect 2017 or previous year taxes filed this season.

“There is a lot of information circulating regarding income taxes, tax reform, and tax refunds,” said Fischman. “Prepare + Prosper is here to answer questions and it’s important to remind taxpayers that free is the best way to file if you qualify, that no one can speed up your refunds, and that tax reform won’t affect your 2017 taxes.”

In 2017, 534 volunteers prepared taxes for 12,609 taxpayers who received more than $24.7 million in refunds and; 984 of those taxpayers committed to saving $1.5 million of their refunds.

Who is eligible for free tax preparation?
Individuals with an annual income $35,000 or less and families and self-employed taxpayers with an annual income $55,000 or less in 2017 are eligible to file their taxes for free.

Where are the free tax preparation sites located?

Appointment sites
Prepare + Prosper main office: 2610 University Avenue W., St. Paul
Creekside Community Center: 9801 Penn Ave. S., Bloomington
Minneapolis Urban League: 2100 Plymouth Avenue N., Minneapolis
ResourceWest, 1011 1st St. S., Hopkins

Walk-in sites
Eastside Financial Center: 965 Payne Avenue, St. Paul
Hallie Q. Brown Community Center: 270 N. Kent St., St. Paul
East Side Neighborhood Services: 1700 2nd St. NE, Minneapolis
Hope Community Center: 611 E. Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis

When are tax sites open?
P+P tax sites are open at varying times until April 14. For a complete list of times or to make appointment, go to www.prepareandprosper.org or call 651-287-0187. P+P also offers audit assistance and the main office is open year-round.

What other services are offered at the tax site?
Taxpayers can open a savings account, purchase a U.S. savings, pull their credit score, and signup for P+P’s free financial coaching program. Taxpayers can also apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) at the P+P main office.

What languages are available?
Spanish and ASL interpreters are available at the P+P main office, and Hmong interpreters at Eastside Financial Center.

About Prepare + Prosper
Prepare + Prosper is a nonprofit focused on building brighter financial futures for low- to moderate-income individuals and families. It provides free tax preparation; financial services, products, and coaching; and works to advance policies and practices that directly benefit the people it serves. In 2016, 534 volunteers prepared taxes for 12,609 taxpayers who received $24.7 million in refunds; 984 of those taxpayers committed to saving $1.54 million of their refunds.

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Media Contact:
Stacy Opitz, Prepare + Prosper
stacy@prepareandprosper.org
651-262-2162
High-res photos of tax preparation services available upon reques


[News Release] Prepare + Prosper Joins Minnesota's Nonprofit Organizations Aligned Against Harmful Federal Tax Bill

Media Contact: Stacy Opitz, Prepare + Prosper — 651-262-2162

Photos: Download photos of Prepare + Prosper’s tax and financial services

St. Paul, MN (Dec. 12, 2017) – Minnesota’s nonprofit community, a sector that employs nearly 12 percent of Minnesota’s workforce and partners with millions, is aligned in its opposition to the harmful and unprecedented federal tax bill.

The bill awaiting passage in Congress gives the largest benefits to profitable corporations and the wealthiest at the expense of most Americans. The tax cuts add more than $1 trillion to the deficit, and to pay for it, policymakers have clear plans to come back and deeply cut health care and other critical services. The harm will be dramatic, particularly to children, retirees, people with disabilities, workers, and families.

With trillions of dollars over the next decade at risk and impacts spanning all sectors, the tax bill under consideration and the budget resolution passed earlier this fall have vast negative consequences that will affect millions of Minnesotans well into the future. Advocates agree this tax bill does not represent the values of Minnesotans, and urge Congressional representatives to reject it.

“The tax bills that passed out of the House and Senate do not amount to real cuts for the tens of thousands of low-income, working people we serve each year with free tax and financial services,” said Tracy Fischman, executive director of Prepare + Prosper. “The proposed Child Tax Credit ‘expansion’ is a prime example of this.”

Proponents of the tax bill are marketing the Child Tax Credit (CTC) expansion as a tax break for families. This key tax credit is supposed to reduce poverty and support hard-working families, yet neither bill does that, and millions of children would be excluded. Specifically, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ estimates, under the Senate CTC plan, a married couple with two children making $24,000 per year would receive a credit increase of just $200, while a married couple making $500,000 would get $4,000, or 20 times as much.

“Meaningful reform to the CTC would target the families who need it most,” said Fischman. “That is parents who are who are earning poverty-level wages and not those making hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. It’s essential that changes to the tax code improve financial security for low-income families, not work against it.”

About Prepare + Prosper –  Prepare + Prosper is a nonprofit focused on financial capability for low-income households. It provides free tax preparation and access to financial services and products; builds the capacity of other organizations providing these services; and works to advance policies and practices that directly benefit the people it serves. In 2016, 575 volunteers prepared taxes for 13,227 taxpayers who received $24.7 million in refunds; 1,231 of those taxpayers committed to saving $1.9 million of their refunds.

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Star Tribune: Mpls. Federal Reserve Workshop to Look at Financial Stresses on Low-Wage, Middle-Income Workers

“Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and others at the Federal Reserve, which traditionally has focused on inflation and unemployment data when thinking about interest rates, increasingly are looking at the effect of racial and economic disparities on individuals and the economy.

On Wednesday, the Minneapolis Fed is hosting a half-day roundtable for employers that will focus on opportunities to improve employee financial well-being.” Read more.


MinnPost: Setting the Record Straight

“While most Americans have put tax season behind them, President Donald Trump and Congress are gearing up for tax reform, and we’re paying attention. As an organization that provides free tax preparation, we know that tax time can be a game changer for people who work hard but find it difficult to cover the essentials.” Read more…


NBC Nightly News: Many Happy Returns As Man Finds Fun In Tax Forms

On Saturday night’s broadcast: Thousands attend global march for science, a confrontation between passengers and American Airlines crew caught on camera, and one man’s unusual love: doing taxes.


Maple Grove Press and News: Thanks to Erik Paulson

Thank you, Congressman Erik Paulsen, for visiting one of Prepare + Prosper’s free tax preparation sites during the final week of the tax season. We appreciate you taking the time to visit and talk with volunteers and customers. So far this tax season, volunteers helped 9,887 low- and moderate-income individuals and families file their taxes for free, of which many received the Earned Income Tax Credit. Read more.


KSTP--Channel 5: Free Tax Help Offered to Low-Income Families

More than 250 people are set to receive tax assistance from the Twin Cities nonprofit Prepare + Prosper.

Organizers said that since January, more than 500 volunteers have helped thousands of taxpayers file their taxes for free and returned $11.6 million in federal refunds. Read more and watch video.


KARE--Channel 11: Volunteer Merrily Completes 50,000 Tax Returns

Get a splinter in your pinky toe while walking to your root canal and you could still be having a better time than tax time. Unless you happen to be Andrew Benjamin.

“I love taxes,” smiles the 82-year-old. “I live for taxes.”

Benjamin’s permanent smile and infectious laugh are among the traits that have helped make him a legend among the 500 volunteer tax preparers at Prepare + Prosper.

Read more and watch video.


MinnPost: Amid Rising Tax Preparation Fees, Programs Provide Low-Income Minnesotans with Free Filing Assistance

On a recent afternoon, Mary Zweber and other volunteer tax preparers formed a circle in a small room inside the St. Paul headquarters of Prepare + Prosper, a nonprofit that helps provide free tax preparation services for low-income Minnesotans.

Matt Dorwart, a manager with the organization, told the volunteers how many people the organization has helped file their taxes since January: More than 10,000. Read more.