Alexandria, VA – Today, 45 United Way leaders visited Capitol Hill to elevate the importance of helping American families turn their financial tightrope into a solid financial pathway, with the help of federal policy.
The Chief Executive Officers of local United Ways are a diverse group – from as far away as Hawaii and Alaska, as close as Washington, D.C., and Main Street communities like Sioux City, IA, Flint, MI and Lancaster, SC. They represent United Way’s U.S. network of 1,200 state and local organizations. United Ways are bringing people together -- from all across the community -- with passion, expertise and resources to build stronger, healthier communities where everyone can thrive.
“We need our elected officials to understand how important it is that Congress support policy that helps strengthen families and communities,” said Stacey D. Stewart, United Way U.S. President. This message was echoed in more than 100 meetings with top congressional leaders, including Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), and House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
United Way is advocating for:
- Preserving the charitable deduction and expanding incentives for charitable giving in the U.S. tax code.
- Strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which helps low-wage working families keep more of what they earn. Research shows the tax credit encourages work, reduces welfare rolls, and builds children’s academic and future work success.
- Strengthening the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which helps families offset the cost of raising children.
On average, the EITC and CTC tax credits lifted 9.4 million people out of poverty between 2009 and 2011.
Local United Ways across America are working to improve financial stability by helping low-wage families access free tax support to claim the tax credits, as part of United Way’s larger goal to build up communities by strengthening the building blocks of education, financial stability and health. For the 2012 tax year, a coalition of 100 United Ways providing free tax preparation services across 40 states helped bring back $1.8 billion in tax refunds to low and moderate-income workers.
For example, in Detroit – a city that’s recently made bankruptcy headlines -- United Way for Southeastern Michigan has helped put $26 million back in the hands of hardworking families through free tax preparation assistance, and helped more than 5,000 homeowners stay in their homes with online foreclosure assistance. United Way also helped more than 5,000 people access a wide range of financial services – from career coaching to credit counseling – all under one roof. Some 70% of those people were able to increase their income, improve their credit score and/or increase their savings and assets.
In many communities, United Way donors are volunteering their time and professional services to help low-wage individuals file their taxes and claim relevant tax credits.
About United Way
United Way is a worldwide movement of nearly 1,800 community-based United Ways in 41 countries and territories. It advances the common good by focusing on education, income and health – the building blocks for a good quality life. The United Way movement mobilizes millions to action – to give, advocate and volunteer – to improve conditions in their local community. For more information about United Way, please visit: UnitedWay.org.
Kyle Rouse, Acting Director of Media and Public Relations, +1-904-303-2131, Kyle.Rouse@uww.unitedway.org