A Match Made to Promote Financial Health

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When the participants of a partnership are aligned and well-matched, good things are the result.

The Prosperity Centers, located in Moncks Corner and Summerville, are two local sites where great partnerships are formed. Solutions focused match-ups often include multiple nonprofits that working together to offer residents tools for achieving financial stability. One of these partnerships assists qualifying residents with filing federal and state taxes at no cost.

Trident United Way and SC Thrive are gearing up for an eighth year of providing free tax assistance at the Berkeley and Dorchester Prosperity Centers, in addition to a host of other sites throughout the Tri-County. You may qualify to have your taxes prepared at no cost if you have an adjusted gross income of $65,000 or less per year for individual filers, and $95,000 if married and filing jointly. When you meet with your trained tax counselor, you will receive tax preparation assistance as well as a basic financial wellness education. Whether you want to reduce debt, establish a rainy day fund, buy a home or save for college or retirement, tax counselors and SC Thrive partners can connect you to free credit counseling and debt management assistance tools.  

"Through our collaboration with SC Thrive, we are thrilled to again offer tax preparation at no cost for Tri-County area residents coupled with financial wellness education during the 2018 tax season," said Cathy Easley, director of integrated community systems at Trident United Way.

For the 2017 tax season, tax returns reporting income from calendar year 2016, Trident United Way and SC Thrive assisted thousands of individuals and families saving them an expense for filing. Here are some of the outcomes:

2,320 tax returns were completed at no cost through The Benefit Bank of South Carolina Application Tool

$1,945,800 in refunds through filings at approximately 30 sites in Tri-County area

30 percent of clients assisted qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit and bringing $562,824 back to the Tri-County area

The Trident United Way and SC Thrive partnership continues to offer alternative ways for Tri-County residents to file their tax returns, while avoiding the financial traps of predatory tax preparers. The average cost of tax preparation fees in our area is $243.00. This year, SC Thrive trained tax counselors and AmeriCorps members will assist clients and families with tax return preparation for the 2018 IRS tax season beginning January 29, 2018 until tax day April 17, 2018.

Check out the list of ways you or someone you know could benefit from this partnership:

You can file your South Carolina State and Federal Taxes quickly, easily and at no cost if your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is less than $65,000. ($95,000 if your filing status is married filing jointly)

You get all of your return back--no filing fees or unexpected charges.

With e-filing and direct deposit, you will usually get your refund within seven to ten business days.

You can use The Benefit Bank of South Carolina to file your own taxes online.

You can find a Tax Site to connect with an SC Thrive Tax Counselor. Local tax preparation sites are organizations and agencies in your communities that you already know and trust like the Berkeley and Dorchester Prosperity Centers, nonprofit agencies, libraries, food banks, churches and schools.

Using The Benefit Bank of South Carolina application tool, you can complete up to three years prior back taxes, as well as the current year's taxes.

Tax season is also an opportune time to speak with clients about financial literacy. According to the 2017 Prosperity Now Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, nearly 40% of South Carolina households do not have enough savings to make it through a crisis. In addition to tax preparation assistance, when you meet with a trained tax counselor, you will receive financial wellness education. SC Thrive partners can connect you to free credit counseling and debt management assistance tools. 

"Our hope is to provide clients with information and resources that will increase their financial knowledge and help them achieve their personal goals on their way to financial stability," said Katrina Seastrunk, lowcountry regional coordinator for SC Thrive.

SC Thrive suggests that families work toward establishing an emergency savings account with a minimum of $1,000.00 for unexpected events. This level of savings would be sufficient, in most circumstances, to support a family in a brief time of crisis and prevent them from falling behind on mortgage/rent payments or utility bills.

Want to get started?

You can reach the SC Thrive Tax Call Center at 800-726-8774.The trained counselor on the other end of the line will ask you a few questions about yourself and your household. Based on your answers, you will have a rough estimate of your household's eligibility for free tax preparation.

Take a look at the Tax Clinic events offered at the Berkeley Prosperity Center or the Dorchester Prosperity Center. Schedule your appointment with a trained tax counselor, including after-hours options on select Wednesdays and Saturdays during February, March and April. Book your appointment by calling the Moncks Corner location at 843-671-6033 or the Summerville location at 843-282-6294.