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FREE TAX CLINICS GENERATE MORE THAN $2.8 MILLION IN RETURNS

Final results have come in to United Way of Hancock County about the number of free tax returns completed by volunteers with Ohio Benefit Bank, VITA, Brown Mackie, Tall Timbers Industrial Park and HHWP Community Action Commission. Tax clinics were also held at the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library, Millstream Career Center and the Hancock County Agency on Aging.

During the 2014 tax season, 2,217 federal tax returns were filed through the free tax preparation program, 199 more than last year. The total amount of refunds processed through the program was $2,816,964. Of that amount, $698,945 was returned to families in Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC).  According to the Internal Revenue Service Tax Center website, the National Society of Accountants reports that the average cost of hiring a tax professional to prepare a Form 1040 with a Schedule A and state tax return is $246. Therefore, the free tax preparation clinics in Hancock County saved tax filers approximately $545,382 in preparation fees.

The number of volunteer hours that were garnered for the season was 2,411. According to the Independent Sector, the value of those volunteer hours in Ohio is $51,596.

The program was open to individuals or families who made less than $65,000 with no capital gains in 2013.  Again this year, appointments were scheduled through United Way of Hancock County’s 2-1-1 resource and referral call center. The Hancock County 2-1-1 program received 1,240 calls to schedule free tax preparation.

Program History:
In 2008, it was reported by Ohio Benefit Bank that in 2005 Hancock County residents had $25,291,304 in EITC go unclaimed. This number was based on the average EITC refund at that time being $1,688. This statistic prompted United Way of Hancock County to start the free tax preparation program. Today, the average EITC is about $2,170, yet approximately one in six eligible Ohioans do not claim it. Those unclaimed ETIC funds mean that local communities miss out on millions of dollars that would have otherwise generated economic activity and growth.