Logo courtesy of Orange County United Way

Orange County United Way’s OC Free Tax Prep now the largest IRS SPEC partner in Orange County, results in $17 million local impact

Orange County United Way’s OC Free Tax Prep program served close to 12,000 clients throughout Orange County this year – playing a vital role in assisting individuals and families in keeping their hard-earned money after a particularly challenging financial year.

A Snapshot of 2021 Outcomes

  • 11,913 clients served throughout Orange County
  • $14.7 million in federal refunds issued, including more than $2.1 million in federal Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC)
  • $2.4 million saved in tax preparation fees
  • Total local impact of $17 million

Orange County United Way partnered with 22 local organizations and hosted more than 490 free tax preparation events throughout the county to help eligible taxpayers (households earning less than $60k a year) file their taxes free of charge and assess their qualification for federal and newly expanded California EITC.

“Our OC Free Tax Prep program assisted many hard-working residents of Orange County including those who faced unfamiliar financial insecurity in the past year,” said Susan B. Parks, President and CEO of Orange County United Way. “For many families, these credits and refunds make all the difference – alleviating the stress of paying for rent, groceries, and other essentials. Our ability to provide free tax prep services was critical in a year with more need than ever before.”

Each year, Orange County United Way hosts and staffs a toll-free tax appointment line and received 12,500 calls this season alone, surpassing the previous average of 9,000 calls. The organization funds the coalition, leads volunteer recruitment and training, and distributes countywide informational materials. Throughout the county, taxpayers saved an estimated $2.4 million on tax preparation, helping low-income clients keep income to support their family.

Seasoned OC Free Tax Prep client Wina Tan has used OC Free Tax Prep since 2003, but this year was the first time she needed to file her taxes virtually. Tan initially felt anxious about the process but with the virtual assistance of an OC Free Tax Prep volunteer, Tan was kept up to date throughout the process and the volunteer was available to answer questions. “The program was step by step and quite simple which made me feel confident and safe,” said Tan.

As a single, low-income mom Tan felt a huge relief in receiving her tax refund. “I am grateful for OC Free Tax Prep services and the ability to put my refund money toward an emergency fund. I plan to file my taxes through this program for years to come,” added Tan.

The OC Free Tax Prep program is part of United for Financial Security, a United Way key initiative to increase the number of financially stable families in Orange County and break the cycle of poverty.

For more information about OC Free Tax Prep, please visit: https://ocfreetaxprep.com/.

ABOUT ORANGE COUNTY UNITED WAY

Today’s Orange County United Way is committed to leading the fight for equity by removing barriers, closing gaps, and leveling the playing field for everyone who lives here. More than a fundraiser, we’re hands-on, delivering more than 50 programs countywide to improve lives in our community. Every day we are doing more for the Education, Health, Housing and Financial Stability of people in Orange County. We are working to ensure our students succeed, our struggling families find financial security, and our homeless neighbors find a place to call home. To learn more or discover how you can help, visit www.unitedwayoc.org.

Orange County United Way is a standalone, independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

This article was released by the Orange County United Way.