UNITED WAY SUNCOAST TO EXPAND ITS FREE TAX PREPARATION PROGRAM

Grant awarded to increase capacity for successful financial stability initiative

Sarasota, FL, June 30, 2017 – On the heels of one of the most successful tax seasons on record for the United Way Suncoast’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation has awarded a generous grant of $60,000 for program growth in Sarasota County.

The grant will help support a dedicated VITA Program Coordinator for Sarasota County, a position that is critical to increasing the number of individuals served through this program. In addition, United Way Suncoast will expand program marketing during tax season, technology upgrades and additional training for volunteers.

“Financial stability is a key pillar of United Way Suncoast’s strategic plan, and the VITA Program is a crucial component of that,” said Mireya Eavey, United Way Suncoast Sarasota Area President. “Our strategies focus on supporting ALICE families—Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. One-out-of-five eligible ALICE families in Florida don’t claim the working tax credits they’re due, which can equal thousands of dollars left on the table.”

“VITA’s free, high-quality tax preparation services are proven to help lift working families out of poverty,” said Teri A Hansen, Barancik Foundation President |CEO. “Our Board is very optimistic about this impact this grant will have on ensuring financial sustainability for our community’s most vulnerable residents.”

This past tax season, Suncoast’s VITA program in Sarasota grew 8% over the prior year, which is exceptional considering VITA programs across the country experienced a decline overall.

United Way Suncoast VITA Program in Sarasota /DeSoto Overview

  • 1,924 tax returns were prepared and filed this past tax season
  • Consumers who visited United Way Suncoast VITA sites saved, on average, $200 in simple tax preparation fees. When multiplying that by the 1,924 tax returns that volunteers prepared, the result is an estimate of over $384,000 in preparation fee savings, adding further value to the overall economic impact that VITA has on hard-working residents.
  • More than $2.4 million in tax refunds came to the Sarasota community, including over $800,000 in Earned Income Tax Credits. These are funds that go directly into the pockets of local, hard-working families who need it most and provide a boost to the local economy.

United Way Suncoast coordinates the recruitment and training of more than 40 IRS-certified volunteers in Sarasota County who work with low-to-moderate income individuals and families with a goal to increase the number of residents applying for and receiving Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) and Child Tax Credits. The EITC is one of the most effective anti-poverty tools for working families, yet the IRS reports that one in five eligible people do not claim it.

Eavey added, “We are so grateful for the partnership of the Barancik Foundation which enables us to help more individuals who need access to this important resource. Our community is struggling and we see the direct economic impact this program to help those who need it most.”

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CONTACTS
Deanna Willsey
Chief Marketing Officer, United Way Suncoast

Holly Bullard
Director, Financial Stability, United Way Suncoast

About United Way Suncoast
United Way Suncoast staff, volunteers and trusted community partners fight for the education and financial stability of every person in the communities we serve. We do this through educational programs that give children the skills to succeed and helping adults achieve long-term financial stability, as well as providing support services to those who need it most, because everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve their full potential. For more information, please call 941.366.2686 (Sarasota office) or 813.274.0900 (Tampa Bay office), or visit www.unitedwaysuncoast.org.

About Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation
The Charles & Margery Barancik family has long believed in the power of philanthropy to shape our world and enrich the lives of all people. It was the expression of this belief that led them in 2014 to establish the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation—a private, family foundation located in Sarasota, Florida. The Barancik Foundation creates initiatives and awards grants in Sarasota and beyond in the areas of education, humanitarian causes, arts and culture, the environment, and medical (research/resources). For further information, please contact Kelly Romanoff at KRomanoff@BarancikFoundation.org.