Millions of dollars in Earned Income Tax Credits are going unclaimed in Massachusetts

And what we are doing to change that.

Bank of America volunteers in Roxbury last year.
Bank of America volunteers in Roxbury last year.

The IRS estimates 23% of the Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) go unclaimed each tax season. As many of us prepare for our annual routine of maximizing our own tax returns, these millions are left on the table every year – money that can make a huge difference to some of the neediest families in our communities.

With EITC Awareness Day approaching on January 30, United Way, Bank of America, and our community partners and volunteers are gearing up to help thousands of local residents make sure they are able to take advantage of this critical source of earned income.

To put it by the numbers:

  • $833 million was claimed in Earned Income Tax Credits in the 2014 tax season by eligible, low-income working individuals.
  • The average amount the individual received is $2,050
  • Based on last year’s information, this means approximately $166 million could go unclaimed this year in Massachusetts.

So what is being done about it?  For the past 8 years, with funding from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and community partners like Quincy Community Action Programs, Neighborhood Developers in Chelsea, and others, United Way has been providing  opportunities for free tax preparation assistance and help maximizing the Earned Income Tax Credit and other credits and refunds.

In the 2014 tax season, this partnership returned a total of $2.9 million in EITC credits, and $10.2 million in total refunds and credits, to 4,515 residents through 10 community-based organizations in eastern Massachusetts.

Bank of America employees last year also volunteered nearly 600 hours of service to complement their financial support. Many of them have made it an annual tradition to offer their time and expertise, working directly with residents to help them maximize their returns.

The impact of this program to local families is huge – and still has so much untapped, unclaimed potential to be even greater.

So what can you do?

  • Interested in volunteering as a tax preparer or at one of our financial stability centers to help local low income families? Contact Kate Kerrigan at
  • Do you know anyone in these communities who could benefit from EITC tax prep services? Help spread the word.

2015 EITC Tax Prep community partners include:

  • Massachusetts Community Action Partners (MASSCAP)
  • The Neighborhood Developers (Chelsea)
  • Urban Edge (Roxbury)
  • Lawrence Community Works
  • Greater Lawrence Community Action Council
  • Quincy Community Action Partners
  • Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (East Boston)

Related posts: How a $125,000 grant turned into $10.2 million for the community


Big-time Industry, Big-time Impact: PE/VC Associate Council Uses Brains and Brawn to Make a Difference

Boston’s PE/VC professionals open up about their passion to build a strong community.

In the spring of 2014, a group of young professionals in Boston, with their eye on high impact, formed the Private Equity/Venture Capital Associate Council. Their purpose: to take to heart the Give/Advocate/Volunteer philosophy and serve as examples in the community of what it truly means to Live United.

Those words are taken straight from the group’s charter statement and in the months since they were written, the Associate Council has put them into big-time action. Between volunteer opportunities and events and cutting-edge social impact initiatives, the Associate Council has leveraged its capacity, energy and expertise in unique, consequential ways.

“What really appealed to me was the need not just for money or volunteer hours, but rather the ability to put the skill set I have developed in the private sector to good use to help in the social sector,” says Ben Arnstein of Bain Capital, LLC. “Until I joined the Associate Council, I admit I did not truly believe I could make an impact. I joined because I was convinced this opportunity would let me do just that – and believe I have and will continue to make a difference in the Boston community.”
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National Grid Foundation Increases Heating Assistance Funds to Support Even More Families

National Grid Foundation celebrates giving more than $1 million over 10 years to United Way partners; 2015 grant awards $150,000 to meet rising need in local communities.

United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and the National Grid Foundation today announced that United Way will receive a grant of $150,000 to help local families with heating assistance, a significant increase over the $90,000 awarded last year.  The additional support comes as many families struggle to meet the rising cost of fuel and face recent extreme cold temperatures.

This year’s grant brings the total amount of National Grid Foundation’s support to $1.1 million over 10 years, helping more than 10,000 local families with heating assistance in that time. The funds are distributed through United Way’s Family Fund, which helps struggling families across Eastern Massachusetts make ends meet by assisting with basic needs such as heating, food, and housing.

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Entrenched, complex issues facing the City of Boston require strong partnerships

Tonight, Mayor Martin J. Walsh will share with the region his vision for the City of Boston for the year ahead.  Complex, entrenched issues such as reducing poverty and income inequality, reducing homelessness and narrowing the achievement gap will be in the spotlight.  The good news? Strong partnerships are already in place to make progress on these issues in 2015. Continue reading

Win Win Win


Thanks to the encouragement of a friend, Jeff Coaxum discovered a volunteer opportunity that enriched him and his family more than he thought. A lot more.

Jeff Coaxum watched his best friend get punched in the eye in gym class. He was a sixth grader at the time and his friend, Rod, was assaulted for no other reason than his immense stature; other kids wanted to test their toughness and try to drop the big kid with one punch.

It’s a vivid memory and characterizes one of several challenges Jeff had as a youngster trying to navigate the sometimes tough environment of Crown Heights, Brooklyn; where the sight of fellow students getting hassled and accosted for their belongings was not uncommon. Always an above-average student, Jeff saw his grades slip, given the state of his surrounding environment and various distractions at hand.

His parents eventually moved to a more upscale neighborhood in Flatbush, Brooklyn and Jeff attended a different, safer school. His grades recovered and this along with exposure to various professionals within his community started him on a journey that would eventually see him become a Senior Vice President at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. in Boston.

Luck. It’s impossible to not attribute at least a portion of Jeff’s success to good fortune. Granted, he can ascribe the lion’s share to his stable upbringing, the academic competition between him and his brothers, two working parents and his personal work ethic. But were it not for that simple move to Flatbush, which exposed Jeff to people with different levels of education and professional experience and opened up a breadth of new choices, his life may have been drastically different.
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Together, We Did: Our Farewell to the Patrick Administration


Eight years ago, Governor Deval Patrick ran and won election on the promise of “Together we can.”  The Governor has been a collaborative leader who took a rational, rather than emotional, path to agreement on complex issues.  Today, as we say farewell to Governor Patrick and his administration, we are proud to look at some of the partnerships and results we have achieved together to improve the lives of children and families in Massachusetts. Here are a few of our favorite partnerships:

“Pay for Success” Social Impact Bonds

Last month, Governor Patrick joined United Way, the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance and the Corporation for Supportive Housing to launch the first-in-the-nation “Pay for Success” contract to reduce chronic individual homelessness.  The initiative, also called Social Impact Bonds, will provide 500 units of stable supportive housing for up to 800 chronically homeless individuals over 6 years, improving the well-being of individuals while saving taxpayer dollars by reducing the utilization of costly emergency resources like shelter and Medicaid payments.   Continue reading

How the PE/VC industry is DRIVE-ing progress on early childhood

More than 1/3 of Boston’s entering kindergarteners don’t have the skills to succeed. By third grade, that number doubles to 2/3.

These numbers are strong predictors of future graduation rates, incomes, and our community’s long-range economic prosperity.  But at least we have that information. What is sorely lacking is information on how kids are doing early on before school, when research has proven that identifying and correcting developmental delays will have the greatest positive impact.

Today, United Way and the PE/VC Council (a group of Private Equity and Venture Capital industry leaders) announced the DRIVE initiative: Data and Resources Impacting Vital Early Education with the goal to stop school failure before it ever starts by using proven screening methods and data analysis to have the greatest impact.

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Massachusetts Launches Pay for Success Initiative to Reduce Chronic Individual Homelessness

United Way partners in new program that will provide 500 units of stable supportive housing for up to 800 chronically homeless individuals over 6 years.  More photos.

 FRAMINGHAM – Monday, December 8, 2014 – Governor Deval Patrick today announced the launch of a Massachusetts Pay for Success (PFS) initiative that will leverage philanthropic and private capital investments to reduce chronic individual homelessness, creating a new model of sustainable state support for chronically homeless individuals. The initiative will provide 500 units of stable supportive housing for up to 800 chronically homeless individuals over 6 years, improving the well-being of individuals while saving taxpayer dollars by reducing the utilization of costly emergency resources like shelter and Medicaid payments.

“Government’s role is to help people help themselves. It is critical that we reduce the reliance on emergency services and provide individuals safe and stable housing that will help strengthen our communities and last for generations to come,” said Governor Patrick. Continue reading

Get that Light In


Karol Nina knows what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange land.  And she’s taken that experience to make a difference in the lives of girls who know the feeling.

While the wind blew and the snow swirled and everyone else was shuttered inside their homes and the streets were devoid of traffic, Karol Nina and her sister and her mother stood hip-deep in a drift, holding hands, throwing up fistfuls of powder into the air, basking in the winter chill.

“It was the weirdest feeling,” she says. “We couldn’t feel our legs and no one else was out there that day. It was a blizzard. But we were having a party.”

And who could blame them? It was their first exposure to snow, having immigrated to Lynn, Massachusetts from Puerto Rico earlier in the year. Karol was 12 at the time and little did she know, a decade later, this story would become something more than a silly anecdote; it would be a bridge across cultures.

Karol Nina recently wrapped up a one-year stint working for Girls Inc. as an Americorps member, part of United Way’s broad, 12-person term charged with serving in Lynn agencies with the mission of helping the immigrant population better their education and grasp on the English language.

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