Featured Grant Story: Coalition of Community Assistance Volunteers, Inc.
What is the Coalition of Community Assistance Volunteers, Inc.?
The Coalition of Community Assistance Volunteers, Inc. (CCAV) was formed in 2002 when the IRS reported that more than $10 M in earned income tax credits were "left on the table" in Lubbock County alone because the low income persons who were entitled to those credits did not claim them. This was primarily due to a lack of information. The main goal of the CCAV is to help low income residents of the South Plains become more financially self sufficient. To accomplish this goal, a multifaceted approach is taken. This approach includes assistance, education, and advocacy.
In 2016-2017, CCAV helped low income residents receive approximately $1,582,000 in Earned Income Credits as well as more than $3.3 M in refunds, while saving clients more than $419,000 in tax preparation and filing fees. During the tax season CCAV helps over 3,000 individuals and families toward breaking the cycle of poverty. CCAV aims to offer financial literacy and advocacy support services year round to deepen their community impact.
Coalition of Community Assistance Volunteers, Inc. in Action
Maria is a single mother of three in Lubbock whose taxes have been completed by CCAV for the last 4 years. She makes $18,251 per year. She can only afford to work part time as childcare is costly. Her family is on food stamps, and she seeks assistance from her family and other support services in Lubbock to make ends meet.
Prior to learning about CCAV's free tax services Maria was frequently late filing her taxes and had to pay penalties. Frustrated, she started going to a tax accountant company that charged her $200 per year. Every other year or so she asked for her refund quickly because she had overdue bills to pay which cost an additional $150. The tax accountant was not maximizing her possible earned income tax credits correctly.
With CCAV, tax services are free. Maria's refund reaches her bank account with a day for free. CCAV maximizes what her family is due. Their volunteers help Maria quickly. Last year she received a $1,876 income tax refund. She's now ahead of her bills. What can she use the money for? Should she buy the kids new clothes? Should she save it? CCAV can help Maria with financial and technical resources for sustainable, life long learning, and self sufficiency.
When surveyed, 90% of CCAV clients report they used their refunds immediately to pay rent, utilities, and debt. If there is money left over, only 4% report they would save to buy a car, 6% would save for an education, 8% would save for their children, and 11% would save to buy a home. While CCAV's free services can save families at least $150 in tax preparation fees and even more in "rapid refund" loan fees, they could help families exponentially.
CCAV can help more people prepare and file through more training and building preparation, igniting partnerships to coordinate financial literacy workshops throughout the year, build and organize a sustained advocacy program of events and support, and help families increase stability.