How to file taxes isn’t something we’re taught in school. And ensuring they are done correctly takes time and money - two things many are in short supply of, especially after the last pandemic-ridden year.
That’s why Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in partnership with United Way of Central Ohio, began offering free tax clinics last year as part of the Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families initiative. The clinics are offered at six central Ohio locations and are designed to help families access tax credits and refunds. Tax preparers also aim to educate clients on the types of credits they qualify for, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Last year, more than 450 community members took advantage of the service, including Taylor Docie, who works for Protective Services at Nationwide Children’s. He learned about the tax clinics because appointments take place at Northland Primary Care where he works. After directing several people to the clinic, he decided to investigate further.
“I handed my documents off to Amarie, an outreach specialist, on a Monday. Ed, the tax preparer I worked with, asked me a couple of questions, and by the following Monday, I was filing my taxes,” he says. “Thanks to the tax clinic, I got a great return, and the money was in my account within a couple of weeks.”
Docie says it was clear the tax preparers knew what they were doing, and he’s grateful to work for an organization that helps the community in this way.
“This is a really important service and is particularly great for community members who don’t have an extra $150 to pay someone to help them. To make it this easy for people who don’t have much and are trying to take care of their family means a lot,” says Docie. “I have a son myself and being able to file my taxes through the tax clinic means I’m able to stay focused on keeping him fed and clothed.”
Those on the receiving end of the free tax filings aren’t the only ones who are grateful. The tax preparers who worked at the clinics shared story after story of what it meant to them to see the smiles and tears of appreciation as they helped clients get a little more money back in their pocket. Preparers like Liz, who helped a mom who recently went through a divorce. By taking time to ask questions and listening to the client’s answers, Liz recognized that changing the mom’s filing status to head of household could prove advantageous. This netted her client a refund of nearly $6,000.
Another tax preparer shared her experience helping a first-time mom who had never filed as a parent. The mom shared a video of her son, who she dresses up on Mondays and Fridays for day care to give him a good start and end to his week. When the mom learned she was going to receive a $3,500 refund, she was overcome with tears of happiness, telling the preparer how much the money would help her family.
Click here to learn about additional economic development opportunities offered through the Healthy Neighborhoods Healthy Families initiative.
2021 Tax Clinics at a Glance
- Total number of people/families served through 2021 tax clinics: 450
- Refund total: $1 million
- Average refund amount: $2,222