What if I told you there was an organization responsible for processing $4.3 million in tax returns and saving residents of Carroll County over $700,000 in tax filing fees over the last three years? Would you believe that organization was a non-profit Community Action Agency? Human Services Programs of Carroll County, Inc.’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a service that utilizes IRS-trained volunteers to provide free tax returns to individuals and families who earned less than $55,000 in 2018.
Many of our VITA customers are also eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the EITC generates $1.50 in local economic activity for every $1 spent. HSP’s free service allows our customer to spend more of their tax return on local goods and services. HSP is the only VITA site in Carroll County to offer financial education services in tandem with our tax preparation.
While our agency’s primary focus is addressing the needs of homeless and at-risk citizens of Carroll County through shelter and housing services, we believe that a key element in preventing homelessness and helping people get back on their feet after a crisis is financial education. We offer both individual coaching and group financial workshops. We offer these services to the general public at our main office at 10 Distillery Drive in Westminster. We also work with other community partners such as the Carroll County Business and Employment Resource Center (BERC) to offer workshops and Carroll County Public Library to offer Carroll Cash Day, a day of fun financial literacy the entire family can enjoy.
There are several other ways that HSP helps the local economy. Some of our programs deliver client benefits from state or federal grant programs directly to businesses that employ local workers. Many of our donations from the community are given to local landlords and utility providers, on behalf of our participants, to prevent evictions, end homelessness, and help those in need. HSP is in the business of economic development, but our business is helping the people we serve — those in the most need in our community — become more self-sufficient by offering a hand up.
If you are a Carroll County resident who made less than $55,000 in 2018 and you would like to schedule your appointment for our VITA free tax preparation, please call 410-386-6653 or visit our website www.hspinc.org/vita for more information about what to bring to your appointment. If you are interested in more information about our Financial Education workshops, visit www.hspinc.org/financialeducation for our current workshop schedule. If you are an individual or part of an organization or business that wants to partner with HSP to make a difference for the most vulnerable neighbors in our community, please contact me at 410-386-6648 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can be a part of our agency’s mission to give hope, inspire change, and provide opportunity by mobilizing our community in the fight against poverty.
Matt Peregoy is the director of development for Human Services Programs of Carroll County, Inc.