About The Authors

John Hoffmire, PhD

John Hoffmire is the director of the Center on Business and Poverty at the University of Wisconsin School of Business and faculty associate at the Puelicher Center for Banking Education at UW-Madison. Before starting the Center on Business and Poverty in 2004, John had a 20-year career in equity investing, venture capital, consulting, and investment banking. His work has had a particular focus on employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs). As founder and CEO of his own investment banking firm, he helped employees buy and manage approximately $2.2 billion worth of ESOP stock. He sold his firm to American Capital, which then went public. John left American Capital as senior investment officer when the company reached $1B in assets. After leaving American Capital, John was vice president at Ampersand Ventures, formerly Paine Webber’s private equity group. Earlier in his career, after he finished his PhD at Stanford University, he was a consultant at Bain & Company. John is also chairman of Progress Through Business, an organization that he founded with others interested in economic development tools that can used by companies to assist low-income individuals and communities.

Mary Lou Black

Mary Lou served as an educator and manager for 30 years for the city of Madison and the State of Wisconsin. She was the State Supervisor for Program Development and Operations for the Technical College System Board where she managed funding sources for the development of new vocational education programs and provided trouble shooting for existing programs in the Business, Marketing and other service occupational areas. Among her responsibilities was to represent the Technical College System on the Governor’s Council for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, chaired by the Governor; to serve on the Joint Review Committee for Academic Programs consisting of UW-Chancellors and Technical College Presidents, and to promote a sound Quality Improvement process in the operations of the 16 technical colleges and their statewide programming. Mary Lou has experience as manager in the WI Department of Transportation and the Department of Corrections. As Education Director for a state prison, she prepared inmates to transition into jobs upon release by providing them with GED preparation programs and vocational training. She has a PhD in Education Administration from UW-Madison.

Paul Hammeke

Paul is an AmeriCorps VISTA and Project Manager serving at Progress Through Business. He is the primary coordinator for the free tax preparation program provided by UW Credit Union and Progress Through Business in Madison, WI (documented in this paper). He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics at the University of Wisconsin in 2009.

Overview of Tax Assistance Programs in Credit Unions

As credit unions seek creative ways to better serve more diverse segments of members, they are beginning to see the value of tax assistance programs for the populations in their communities. And they are noticing the resulting ability to improve their own bottom line results through these programs. Areas of potential value include credit unions creating: (1) tax and benefits programs for their own employees, (2) tax and private/public benefits programs for their members, (3) tax and benefits programs for corporations and other employers where credit unions are or could be based, and (4) tax and benefits programs for non-members.

This paper describes tax assistance programs at two credit unions, University of Wisconsin Credit Union located in Wisconsin and State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) located in North Carolina. Each program offers a different approach to organization and support. The authors will explore what differences exist between the programs.

It is important to first give a brief description of VITA, or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. This is an IRS-sponsored, volunteer tax return preparation program that brings together well-trained, IRS-certified tax preparers who volunteer their time and expertise to prepare tax forms for low- and moderate-income residents (usually below $49,000 in household income). The service along with electronic filing is free of charge to taxpayers. This IRS funded program has been around for more than 30 years.

Quality free and low-cost tax preparation provides great value to people in all income brackets. It is especially beneficial to low- and moderate-income individuals. Tax preparation fees usually range from $80-350 and are often the equivalent of 3% of the yearly take home pay of a full time minimum wage worker. It has been found that when taxpayers prepare their own taxes without the aid of a trained specialist, an average person makes $800 in mistakes to their detriment. This is a very significant figure that should be considered by the credit union community. How often could a credit union have an $800 positive influence on a member by offering a program that could be staffed by volunteers and which may only take a credit union a few hours to organize if it brings people from the VITA community into its facilities to provide the services?

It is also the case that a well-functioning tax assistance program can directly provide credit union members with the ability to deposit more money into credit union accounts and investment products, increasing the financial security of both the members and the credit union.

Offering a quality free or low-cost tax service combined with public or private benefits enrollment at tax time is also very advantageous for credit union employees. For instance, special emphasis can be placed on encouraging enrollment in 401(k) and other retirement plans when employees are often most able, after receiving tax refunds, to make the financial contributions. This is not only beneficial for credit union employees because it helps educate them about their benefits, but it also enables the credit union to offer more successful programs that will help them to retain their best employees. Additionally, when credit union employees are well-informed about tax programs, financial options and benefits, they are able to communicate this valuable knowledge to members of the credit union, potentially changing members’ financial behavior.

Tax assistance programs can also be very beneficial to non-members of credit unions. In addition to the immediate benefit of free or low-cost tax assistance, there are also long term implications. When a taxpayer finds out they are receiving a refund while inside of a credit union, they are having a positive experience they will likely connect with the credit union. This connection can influence non-members’ decisions pertaining to saving, investment, and credit union membership.

Benefits of tax assistance programs are further examined in the 2007-2008 Staples research study conducted by the non-profit organization, Progress Through Business (Progress). Progress assists credit unions and other businesses with the creation and operation of well-functioning VITA programs. Staples Corporation is an international firm with broad reach in the business product supply industry that has worked with Progress since 2005.

The study follows 500 employees who were offered tax preparation and benefit enrollment services. There were higher participation rates in the 401(k) employee stock purchase plan, medical plan, and scholarship plan for employees at Staples who took part in the tax program as compared to employees who did not. The percentage differences for those who did participate versus those who did not were: 29% for the 401(k) plan, 16% for the employee stock purchase plan, 7% for medical plan, and 42% for the scholarship program. Not only did the employees benefit, Staples did also. The return on their investment was 5.4 times what they spent on the project. This return on investment came in just 12 months as a significant number of the employees who participated in the tax program stayed at the company as compared to a larger percentage of non-participants who left. The savings, related to retention of employees, were linked to not having to pay for temporary service firms and for training to replace employees that Staples did not want to lose. (Further details of the study are found in Appendix B.)

Organization Descriptions

State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina

State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) of North Carolina is a cooperative non-profit association. It has 1.6 million members and assets of $21 billion through 232 branches, 1,200 ATMS, and four call centers. The credit union opened in 1937. It currently has 4,200 employees. Each branch office has an advisory board, composed of volunteers, that meet quarterly to provide recommendations for improvement of services.

SECU offers a wide variety of products and services such as salary advance loans to combat predatory payday lending; various mortgage options aimed at helping members who have become victims of subprime mortgage practices; “green” mortgages and “green” vehicle loans; youth accounts and programs that promote financial literacy, and summer cash and holiday cash accounts to assist members in budgeting their finances.

The SECU Foundation, a 501c (3) charitable organization funded solely by the contributions of SECU members, helps to solve problems in neighborhoods, schools, and communities at large. It was established as a vehicle to “drive” the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People”.

University of Wisconsin Credit Union of Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin Credit Union (UWCU) is a consumer-oriented financial services cooperative. It was founded in 1931 by university faculty who believed that the not-for-profit cooperative business model would best serve the unique needs of their community. UWCU has 13 full-service branches in Madison, three in Milwaukee, one in Stevens Point, one in Green Bay and one in Whitewater WI. Its services include: educational loans, mortgages, consumer loans, checking, savings and investment products, business services, credit and debit cards, and financial literacy programs.

With 142,000 members, UWCU has 350 employees and $1.2 billion in assets. Its campus locations include: UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Green Bay, UW-Whitewater, UW-Stevens Point and Madison College. UWCU is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and is governed by a member-elected board.

Progress Through Business

The mission of Progress Through Business is to sustain and enhance underserved communities through initiatives, research, networking, and strategic partnerships to empower people and improve the economic, environmental, and social conditions of the communities it serves. Progress works at two levels. On the ground, they are staffed by a group of well-connected business professionals in California, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Florida, Utah, and Washington, D.C. In addition, they have boards of advisors in California and Massachusetts that support the staff members’ work. Progress also employs VISTA volunteers and relies on them for energy, enthusiasm and leadership for many of its projects.

Description of Two Tax Assistance Programs

For the past five years, Progress Through Business has offered tax assistance to low- and middle-income employees at employer sites across the nation. The services are provided for free at some locations and for a nominal fee at others. During 2010, Progress either provided consultation with organizations that provided these tax services or actually worked hands-on at VITA sites to complete over 20,000 tax forms. The following give descriptions of programs provided by State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina and a free tax assistance program coordinated by Progress in Madison, WI, through the cooperation of UWCU.

Dual Approach to Tax Assistance Offered by State Employees’ Credit Union in North Carolina

SECU first agreed to partner with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to offer VITA in 2007 and they officially began offering the service in January 2008. SECU took a hands-on approach to the partnership and agreed to host VITA sites in all of their then 216 branch locations. One of the more challenging aspects to running a VITA site can be recruiting qualified volunteers. To alleviate this concern SECU opted to train a minimum of two existing employees in every branch to offer the VITA service. SECU designated one program coordinator who worked with the IRS to develop and implement a training plan for selected employees. SECU used a combination of classroom training as well as the IRS Link & Learn e-learning course available on www.irs.gov. Each branch designated a site coordinator to oversee the day-to-day VITA program responsibilities during the tax season. The VITA service was available from mid-January through April 15th during normal business hours. Tax returns were done by appointment only to allow each branch to efficiently accommodate the VITA service.

During the first tax season SECU employees helped over 16,000 qualifying taxpayers claim more than $8 million in tax credits, including Earned Income Tax Credits of $4.7 million and Child Tax Credits of over $2.3 million. In addition, these taxpayers were able to claim $14 million in tax refunds. Because the VITA services were free, individuals who used the program saved over $2.2 million in tax preparation fees.

In an effort to discourage the use of predatory Refund Anticipation Loans, SECU created a low cost alternative referred to as the Tax Refund Express Loan. It has a low interest rate of 12.00% APR. A typical 15-day loan would only cost approximately $12 based on a loan amount of $2,500. In contrast, a typical high interest refund anticipation loan may cost $100 or more. The maximum loan amount is limited to 90% of the anticipated federal income tax refund amount. During a SECU press conference promoting the VITA program, Congressman David Price commended SECU on its efforts to provide an alternative to high interest refund anticipation loans.

In 2009 the IRS began administering a VITA Grant program which awards grants to partner organizations to help achieve the VITA program objectives. SECU was selected as a grant recipient in 2009 and 2010.

SECU saw a tremendous increase in volume during 2009 compared to 2008. Results from the tax preparation completed in 2009 included:

  • SECU employees helped more than 25,000 qualified individuals claim more than $15.7 million in tax credits, including Earned Income Tax Credits of $9.7 million and Child Tax Credits of over $5.2 million, with a total of $33 million in total tax refunds.
  • Those helped in the program also saved more than $3.75 million in tax preparation fees.
  • In addition to the VITA services, the tax refund express loans saved credit union members, using a conservative calculation methodology, more than $50,000 in costs associated with refund anticipation products. Also, by promoting the advantages of e-filing and direct deposit, the Credit Union helped North Carolinians avoid approximately $175,000 in refund anticipation loan costs.

In 2010, SECU again provided free tax preparation with more than 900 employees trained to provide VITA in each of its 226 branches across North Carolina. SECU continues to experience significant growth in their VITA program. In 2010 SECU employees completed more than 36,000 VITA returns for qualified tax payers. SECU VITA participants claimed more than $25 million in tax credits including $15.2 million in Earned Income Tax Credits and $8.3 million in Child Tax Credits. Participants claimed more than $49 million in tax refunds while saving more than $5.3 million in tax preparation fees.

While the VITA program proved to be very popular with low- to moderate-income members (the income threshold for VITA in North Carolina was $49,000 in 2010), members with incomes above the VITA threshold also expressed interest in tax preparation assistance. To meet this need, in 2010, SECU expanded their tax preparation services to include a low-cost option for members whose income exceeded the VITA threshold. SECU’s new low-cost tax preparation service is not associated with the IRS VITA program. In preparation for this new service, SECU obtained professional tax preparation software, registered for Electronic Filing Identification Numbers (EFINs) with the IRS, and had employees register for Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) for use on paid returns. Through the new paid preparation service, SECU employees can assist members who have simple tax returns, but whose income exceeds the VITA threshold for a fee of $75. Nearly 2,200 members utilized this new service during the inaugural year. Although both programs are limited to simple tax returns, the income disparity between the two programs is of note. The average adjusted gross income (AGI) for VITA participants was $22,000 while the average AGI for the paid program was $70,000.

Free Tax Assistance Program at UW Credit Union in Madison, WI

The Madison tax assistance program has been offered as a free service for five years to employees of multiple local employers. Before 2010, these services were performed on-site at the employer locations. In 2010 the program changed focus and began to primarily offer its services at UW Credit Union’s corporate office. This change resulted in a much smoother operational process, removing the need to set up and break down VITA equipment, computers and printers, as the site changed locations. It also allowed for a greater opportunity to educate employees about credit unions and the services they provide.

The table below shows the institutions in Madison that Progress and UW Credit Union served in 2009 and 2010 as well as the number of tax returns prepared at each site.

Madison Tax Assistance Program 2009-2010
Tax Season Tax Sites Name of Institution Whose Constituents Were Served Returns Completed
2009 UW-Hospital UW-Hospital 79
Food Fight Food Fight 13
UW-Madison UW-Madison 40
Total 144
Tax Season Tax Sites Name of Institution Whose Constituents Were Served Returns Completed
2010 UW Credit Union UW Hospital 140
UW Credit Union VA Hospital 83
UW Credit Union TDS 6
UW Credit Union Food Fight 3
UW-Madison UW-Madison 9
Emerson Emerson Elementary 32
Madison College Madison College 3
Total 276

The Madison program currently has an overall coordinator who takes care of all aspects of the program. In the past it has operated with both a general coordinator and a site coordinator, with the general coordinator managing employer relationships and oversight for the whole program, and the site coordinator on the ground making sure IRS requirements are maintained and all returns are successfully processed. Both methods can be effective. Having a full-time overall coordinator does have advantages because it gives one person the ability to effectively handle everything related to the program.

Progress coordinators have a very methodical approach towards tax assistance planning and implementation. They first receive permission from the CEOs of local employers to enter into contracts or agreements for free tax preparation; then they work with internal coordinators at each of the employers to ensure the service is publicized and employees are scheduled for tax appointments. Next coordinators obtain, train, and schedule qualified volunteers and tax site supervisors, troubleshooting as the program is implemented. Often coordinators will ensure taxpayers complete written surveys to assess the service. They will then summarize the surveys and share them with the CEOs and Human Resource Managers of the employers they serve. The coordinator then alters procedures as needed for the following year based upon best practices from the current year. The relationship established with UW Credit Union makes the process easier for employers wishing to participate. They no longer need to furnish either the location or the equipment as they have done in the past.

One of the most difficult tasks in planning VITA programs is obtaining qualified volunteers who commit to becoming IRS certified. Progress has a very positive relationship with Beta Alpha Psi, an accounting fraternity at the University of Wisconsin. This provided a solid volunteer base in 2010. Other students from UW-Madison and Madison College also played a very significant role in the program. Finally John Deere Credit and the United Way of Dane County provided additional volunteers for tax preparation. Progress also has a very solid relationship with an accounting instructor, Bill Padley, at Madison College. He organized and led three volunteer training sessions that covered tax law and the process of inputting information into TaxWise, the IRS sponsored tax preparation software. Additional training is obtained through the Link and Learn e-learning course available at www.irs.gov.

VITA trained volunteers are available to complete tax returns for qualified employees January through April. Taxes are prepared by appointment only, and 98.5% of returns are transmitted electronically. This guarantees taxpayers receive their refunds in the quickest possible manner.

In 2009 the overall gain in income through Progress’ Tax Assistance Program by 144 low- and moderate-income employees was $72,000. In 2010 the overall gain in income through the program by 276 employees was $138,000 (See Appendix C for calculation details).

Recommendations to Credit Unions Interested in Creating Tax Assistance Programs

If you are interested in participating in the VITA program, email partner@irs.gov or contact your local IRS office to get the contact name and phone number for the Stakeholder Partnerships, Education, and Communication (SPEC) territory office in your area. SPEC Relationship Managers can discuss partnership opportunities with the IRS, provide information on existing VITA operations in the community, and help connect you with existing tax coalitions in your area.

There are a variety of ways for credit unions to offer tax preparation assistance. Contact credit unions who currently offer tax preparation programs to discuss the pros and cons of their systems. The following is a list of valuable recommendations:

  • Determine your target group. Are you targeting credit union members, credit union employees, other employee groups, membership groups, community organizations, etc.?
  • Decide what level of involvement you want to have. Do you want to run the entire program or do you want to partner with other organizations/individuals to provide services? Will you fund the program yourself or seek funding from grants, partners, etc.? Evaluate options for partnerships in your area and decide whether ancillary goals can be met with these partnerships. One great thing about the VITA program is you can choose a level of commitment that suits your organizational needs. You can select a hands-on approach and assume responsibility for the whole program. Or you can choose to partner with an existing coalition and simply provide space, computer equipment, office supplies, and/or volunteers.
  • Consider the logistics. Should services be offered in a central location, multiple sites, off-site locations, etc.? Anticipate demand for the service by location. If employees are targeted, when and where will appointments occur? Will employees be paid for time spent participating in the program?
  • Determine what services (if any) you want to connect to your tax preparation program. For example, ancillary goals may be to increase enrollment in employee benefit plans, gain new members, offer financial literacy counseling, etc.
  • Develop a rough plan of how many volunteers are needed at each location, where they will be stationed, and who will supervise and/or coordinate them. Ensure that the appropriate equipment can be made available for each volunteer (e.g., computer, printer, software, paper).
  • Secure staffing commitments. Will you use employee volunteers or traditional external volunteers? If using internal volunteers, coordinate schedules to ensure availability and eliminate scheduling conflicts. If using external volunteers, specify the commitment involved. Consider foreign language skills, special needs, and level of tax expertise when selecting staff/volunteers.
  • Establish a training system for your tax preparers. Decide who will take on training responsibilities. An experienced individual with solid tax knowledge is ideal. Utilizing a combination of classroom training and the Link & Learn e-learning course on irs.gov helps to accommodate different learning styles.
  • Determine how you will accommodate tax preparation. Scheduling appointments allows you to better predict your volume and allows you to schedule volunteers accordingly. Allowing walk-ins on a first-come, first-served basis may be easier upfront, but usually means longer waits for members.
  • Develop and distribute promotional materials—posters, flyers, e-mails, payroll stuffers, and newsletters describing the program and process. Include a list of what taxpayers should bring to the tax preparation appointment in the communication.
  • If you schedule appointments for tax preparation, develop a pre-screening checklist to help the appointment taker verify callers qualify for the service prior to their arrival.
  • Finalize decisions such as who will coordinate the program at each location. Ensure that a final schedule is completed (and that volunteers are notified of the schedule), that all equipment is in place, and that arrangements for meals or snacks, parking, and transportation have been made.
  • Develop a thorough quality review process to ensure the accuracy of returns prepared. Provide feedback to volunteer tax preparers.
  • Monitor the program and track important statistical information via the tax preparation software and/or voluntary surveys. This is helpful in improving the efficiency and outreach of your program. It is also useful for keeping volunteers motivated and for communicating to potential funders or partners in future years.

TO LEARN MORE about the VITA program visit the IRS website here: ACT NOW

Appendix A

How-To Guide for Credit Unions Serving Employee Groups

The following guide outlines 16 steps that a credit union can take to

offer their employees or select employee groups tax assistance.

Step 1 Determine which employees (hourly paid only or do you

want to include some salaried level employees) and at what

locations do you wish to offer the tax assistance.

Step 2 Decide which employer benefits, if any, you wish to enroll

employees in following the tax preparation (e.g., 401(k),

FSAs, health care).

Step 3 Determine whether employees will be paid for time spent

having their taxes done or whether appointments will be

scheduled during lunch or after work.

Step 4 Project how many employees will sign up for the tax

preparation service by location (Staples projected 20%

participation and had 16% in 2007 and 18% in 2008).

Step 5 Determine your source of tax preparation professionals

(volunteer vs. paid). If internal employees are used, try not

to assign an employee to his or her immediate supervisor.

Step 6 Recruit qualified volunteers (some with appropriate foreign

language skills) willing to commit to the program.

Step 7 Establish a training system for your tax preparers. Decide who will take on training responsibilities within the organization.

Step 8 Determine how you want to schedule the appointments.

Staples used a Web site, but even a simple sign-up sheet

can work, depending on the size of the location and the

number of employees eligible.

Step 9 Develop a rough plan of how many volunteers are needed

at each location, where they will be stationed, and who

will supervise and/or coordinate them.

Step 10 Ensure that the appropriate equipment is available for each

volunteer (e.g., computer, printer, software, paper).

Step 11 If you decide to promote enrollment in benefits following

the tax preparation, you will need to prepare enrollment

materials and train the people who will do the enrollment

(the tax preparer or an HR representative).

Step 12 Prepare a list of what employees should bring to the tax

preparation appointment and include it in the communication

materials (See Appendix D for example).

Step 13 Develop communication materials—posters, tent cards,

e-mails or flyers, payroll stuffers, and newsletters describing

the program and process—and publicize the project.

Step 14 Prepare a brief survey and/or focus groups to get feedback

from those who participate in the program (See Appendix E for example).

Step 15 Finalize decisions such as who will coordinate the program

at each location; ensure that a final schedule is completed,

that volunteers are notified of the schedule, that all equipment

is in place, and that arrangements for volunteers’

meals or snacks, parking, and transportation have been made.

Step 16 Implement the program and collect the surveys or conduct

the focus groups.

Appendix B

Note: the benefits of tax programs for clients and members have simply increased since this appendix was written. Partly because of changes to the tax code and partly because of stimulus monies being cycled through to certain populations, the advantages of receiving assistance with the completion of tax forms has continued to grow.

Excerpt from the Filene Research Institute report “The Economics of Saving Low-Income Employees at Tax Time: Implications for Credit Unions”

The Staples analysis shows that there were clearly two immediate financial benefits for employees who had their taxes prepared. First, the average amount an employee received in found credits or other tax advantages was $522. Second, the discounted tax service was worth at least $100 to each employee served in 2008. Therefore, the average benefit to an employee was $311 (the weighted average of $522 and $100). The $311 represents a 2% increase to a full-time employee earning $8 an hour, and an even greater increase for part-timers. Then there are the advantages to both employees and Staples in terms of the benefits enrollments. The employees screened for benefits in 2007 showed a 16% increase in ESPP enrollment, a 29% increase in 401(k) plan enrollment, and a 42% increase in scholarship program enrollment. The employees clearly benefited in terms of stock ownership, with an immediate 15% gain at the time the employee received the stock. They benefited by accumulating retirement savings, including a 50% match by Staples on the first 6% an employee contributed. And finally, they gained by obtaining some funding to continue their education. The company gained in terms of increased participation in their benefits plans, which clearly leads to reduced turnover and higher employee morale.

Another Staples study analyzing the correlation between their attitude survey, their

customer service scores, and sales found that higher morale correlates closely with better service, and better service results in higher sales. Participant satisfaction with the Tax Break program was exceptional. Out of four survey questions, 100% of program participants marked the highest possible answer in terms of satisfaction with the program for two years in a row. A 30% increase in participation among those eligible was achieved in 2008, even though the employees were charged $50 per return instead of receiving the service for free.

Clearly, the big advantage to Staples is the reduction in turnover that this program produces. After one full year of tracking those who participated in the program during the 2007 tax season versus those who did not, a 32% improvement in retention was found among those who participated. This improvement in retention drives the company’s ability to absorb the program’s cost of approximately $75 per employee, including communication and administrative costs (about $25). The return on this investment is a 5.4 times multiple, or, put another way, for each employee who participated in this program at a cost of $75, the company saved $480. So, this certainly seems to be a win–win for companies and the low-income employees who participate.

Appendix C

Calculation of Tax Benefits

In 2009 Progress through Business completed 144 taxes for low-and middle- income employees. By having volunteers file the taxes, half of the participating employees, based on our past research, each saved an average of $200 in fees that they might have spent having paid professionals fill in their tax forms. The range of prices would have been $100-$300 per person. Accumulated value for these employees of having their tax forms prepared for free and filed electronically was $14,400. (the calculation is 72 employees times $200 = $14,400)

Also, since the other half of the employees probably did not use a professional tax preparer last year, according to our past survey of your employees, we estimate that they gained on average $800 by having their tax forms completed more accurately. Consequently, these employees, cumulatively, gained $57,600 by picking up credits and rebates that they, on average, would not have received as they would have completed the tax forms themselves, (the calculation is 72 employees times $800 = $57,600)

Total value of the program to the 2009 employees served was $72,000.

In 2010 Progress completed 276 tax returns in Madison. Using the same procedure as above, to calculate value, 138 clients saved an average of $200 in fees or $27,600.

The other half of the employees cumulatively gained $110,400.

Total value of the program to clients in 2010 is $138,000.

Appendix D


Social Security cards (or ITIN cards) for you, your spouse (if joint return is filed) and all dependents.
Picture identification.
All informational statements, including but not limited to:
Wages statements – (Form(s) W-2 and 1099),
Interest and Dividend statements – (Form(s) 1099-INT and 1099-DIV),
Mortgage interest statements – (Form 1098),
Pension and Social Security statements – (Form(s) 1099-R and SSA-1099),
Tuition payments statements – (Form 1098-T), and
Property tax receipts for any property taxes paid
Information about any other sources of income, both taxable and nontaxable, and deductions and expenses you may have such as charitable contributions and child care expenses. If you have childcare expenses please have your childcare providers’ taxpayer ID number.
A completed signed rent certificate or copy of your property tax bill if you are claiming the Wisconsin Homestead credit. You will also need a printout of any Wisconsin Works (W-2) payments, child support, or kinship payments you have received.
A voided check for a checking account direct deposit or a deposit slip for a savings account direct deposit of your refund. Direct deposit is the fastest way to get your refund.
A complete copy of your last federal and state income tax returns is helpful but not required. These are the tax forms that you completed the year before.

Appendix E


Please circle one number for each of the following questions:

A) Was it helpful to you to have your tax forms filled in for you for free?

1) very helpful

2) somewhat helpful

3) not very helpful

4) not at all helpful

B) How knowledgeable of taxes was the person who assisted you?

1) very knowledgeable

2) somewhat knowledgeable

3) not very knowledgeable

4) not at all knowledgeable

C) If this service was offered again by our credit union, I would sign up to have my taxes done for free again?

1) yes

2) maybe

3) maybe not

4) no

Please circle as many numbers as are applicable for this question:

Did you take advantage of any of these programs as a result of participating in the tax preparation services offered today?
401 (k) plan (Saver’s Credit)
Pre-paid medical plan (Flexible Spending)
Direct deposit of your pay check
Established a banking account
Earned Income Tax Credit
The Advanced Earned Income Tax Credit (One you potentially receive during the year, rather than just as a credit after the tax year is over)
Your State’s Dependent Care Credit (if applicable)
Your State’s Renter’s Credit
A Savings Bond
Please circle the correct answer on the next two questions:

Did you pay someone to do your taxes last year?
I do not remember.
If you did pay someone to do your taxes last year, was that person at a company or just an individual who prepares taxes?
Please write any comments you may have.

End Notes

Public benefits include federal or state programs such as child care, health care, and home heating assistance.
Private benefits include employer-specific programs like tuition reimbursement and 401(k) matching programs.

Hoffmire, John, and Thomas Harms. 2008. The Economics of Serving Low-Income Employees at Tax Time: Implications for Credit Unions. Madison, WI: Filene Research Institute

State Employees’ Credit Union. 2009. Free Tax Preparation For Qualified Members. https://www.ncsecu.org/Services/VITAFreeTaxPreparation.html

WRAL.com. March 9, 2009. VITA Programs Provide Free Tax Preparation.

Raleigh, NC


State Employees’ Credit Union. June, 24, 2008. The Credit Union Connection: Volunteerism.

Raleigh, NC