As you know, Prepare + Prosper (P+P) made the difficult decision to suspend in-person services on March 16 during a busy tax season to do our part in protecting the safety and well-being of our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While physical health is important to P+P, we remain steadfast in our commitment to financial health, particularly the financial well-being of Minnesotans with low and volatile incomes and/or little access to safe and affordable financial services and products.

Since March, P+P staff members have quickly pivoted to offer some of our services remotely. We’ve been answering questions, directing people to important resources, sorting fact from fiction to provide trustworthy information amidst a growing number of scams, helping customers prepare to file their taxes on their own, and helping people access their Economic Impact Payments.

To date, we have connected with more than 2,600 people remotely with their tax and financial needs.

At the same time, staff members are also in the midst of reimagining and rebuilding our in-person services so we can continue to work with people with low or volatile incomes and little access to safe financial services and products. (See list of services at the end of the article.)

Although this way of operating isn’t ideal and times are hard for many people and for many reasons, we are finding some “bright spots”moments that give us hope and remind us why we push forward in this work of building brighter financial futures and pushing for economic justice.

 A Kind Email from a Customer

I had mailed my paper federal tax return to the IRS. Two months later still no refund check or update what the status was of my refund. Both the IRS and IRS Advocates were no help locating my refund or suggesting what I should do next. So I reached out to Prepare and Prosper for help. Unlike the IRS I received a response back right away. Carol emailed me and was willing to help me. To me this was a miracle because the prior week I was passed around from department to department at the IRS. All I was trying to find out was if I needed to submit a duplicate return because my original return seemed to be lost.

After talking with Carol I decided to submit another return. She suggested electronically which I had never done before (being 70 years old I always did paper returns). Carol went way beyond my expectations with helping me. She found a free website for me online & helped me step by step over the phone get it processed and also after normal working hours and at no charge. It was scary to me because computers and I do not work well together.

 To me this was a miracle. We finished the return tonight and I checked the IRS website tonight. My return is now in the system I just want to say a special thank you about Carol because you don’t find many people like her anymore that will go the extra step during these times to help someone. She is the best!

 Thank you,
-self-preparation customer

My Own Experience Helping Customers Prepare Their Own Taxes

I’ve been providing tax support over the phone for people who need to file to receive their refund, and a bright spot from this experience has been how this work transforms tax filing into an opportunity to learn and build one’s own power.

Recently I assisted a customer who had income from both a job and their new small business. Pre-COVID-19, I would have asked them come in for an appointment, as their tax situation was somewhat complex. But with that not currently an option, the customer and I reviewed everything they would need for file their taxes on their own, and what to expect with online Free File options. They were interested in learning how their tax situation would affect their new business, and we talked for a while about what they could expect. It turned tax filing into a great learning opportunity, allowing the customer to build their understanding and ownership of their tax and financial situation.

Filing your taxes can be stressful, and I’m glad that I can make things easier for our customers by filing their taxes for them, for free. But for many people, their taxes may be much simpler than they think, as there are free online filing options that automatically do a lot of the work. And by calling in to P+P, we’ll help you sort out what documents you need, answer any questions you may have, and set you up for success by providing you with tools to file for free on your own.

Generosity in the amount of $47,000

Prepare + Prosper is celebrating a successful fundraising campaign: “Responding to Financial Insecurity.” Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors (General Mills, KPMG, Scott Schachtman, AgriBank, Cargill, Bremer Bank, Abdo, Eick & Meyers, and PwC!) and many donors, we raised more than $47,000 to fund our work in response to COVID-19. Our friends, family, volunteers, donors, and board members gathered for a night of online Trivia for Taxes on May 5 to highlight our work and celebrate together. We’re so grateful to our networks for their immense generosity and belief in our work during these times.

I am glad that my small donation helped. This work is so critical in our current crisis. I appreciate all the work that the Prepare + Prosper staff do for Minnesotans. – P+P donor

We look forward to continuing our critical work throughout and after this crisis. While COVID-19 has created many barriers, P+P is doing its best to turn it into an opportunity to create more flexible programs that can meet customer needs in new ways.

Services as of June 2020

Below is a list of services that P+P is now offering or will soon be offering in this time of COVID-19. Please contact us with questions or interest in volunteering.

  • Money Mentors financial coaching has switched to entirely virtual meetings. Participants and coaches have found that scheduling video or phone meetings has come naturally and the Zoom platform works well for peer session conversations for both participant and volunteer groups. Online options will likely stay a part of the Money Mentors program going forward. This program is accepting new participants and new coaches. Learn more and apply here.
  • FAIR Banking has switched to online enrollment, allowing customers to open a savings account with no minimum balance, a checking account with no monthly fees, or sign up for a credit builder. Digital banking tools are especially important in our increasingly cashless economy. Learn more about FAIR here.
  • Remote Tax Preparation was paused as we first made sure we could space our volunteers and staff out safely, but for the last few weeks we’ve been preparing returns dropped off during tax season by care givers and caseworkers. The Remote Tax Preparation program is designed to serve people with a disability or who are elderly and cannot come to a tax site.
  • Drop-off and virtual tax preparation is coming soon! We are still planning the final details for these services that offer options for free tax preparation that involve no or minimal in-person contact. Initial appointments will be given to customers who had a tax season appointment scheduled with P+P prior to the pandemic closure. We aim to prepare as many returns as we can before the extended July 15 tax deadline.
  • Tax support and coaching is being done over the phone and online. We’re answering questions and coaching customers through preparing their own taxes using free online options. Do you have questions or need support? Call us at 651-287-0187 or email