United Way of the Bay Area

Volunteers Unearth Hidden Treasure in Taxes

Posted on May 6, 2009, by United Way in Uncategorized


Every year about 25 Mechanics Bank employees spend weeks immersed in 1099s, 1040s, and W-2s. And they love it.

They are part of a six-year effort to help low-wage workers get the tax refunds they deserve. In 2008, volunteers filed more than 46,900 tax returns resulting in $35.6 million back into the hands of deserving families.

All of this is made possible by Earn It! Keep It! $ave it!, a United Way-led coalition comprising more than 160 tax sites as well as dozens of additional community partners. The program has returned more than $107 million to the community since its inception in 2003.

In addition to helping people discover the tax credits they may be able to receive, volunteers also work with people to manage debt, increase income and build savings for the future.

“I enjoy doing this,” said Erwin Reeves of Mechanics Bank, who organizes the volunteers every year. “Over time we've been able to watch as people learn how they can use this money as a foundation for their future.”

Even though being a volunteer tax preparer is a big job that requires commitment, Erwin never has any problems recruiting volunteers.

“Everyone has such a good time, and they don't think of it as though they are giving up a Saturday,” he said. “They're just having fun and helping people take advantage of opportunities they didn't know they had.

Tax site volunteer in Alameda County.

To find out how you can volunteer visit: www.uwba/eks today.

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