The Tax-Time Savings Project
Savings is an important factor in moving families up the economic ladder; however, more than one in three Texans do not have a savings account and half don’t have adequate emergency savings.
Tax-time is an important moment to help families save as tax refunds represent the largest single payment many low-income families receive all year. Tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are meant to supplement wages and incentivize work, with the average refund amounting to over $2,000. IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, which provide free tax return preparation to low-income families, have emerged as an important platform to encourage families to save.
In 2011, OpportunityTexas launched the Tax-Time Savings Project, which includes two different initiatives - Opportunity to Save and Opportunity Savings Accounts - to encourage Texas VITA filers to save a portion of their tax refund.
Opportunity to Save
The Savings Bond Incentive Project (rebranded this year as Opportunity to Save) lead by OpportunityTexas in partnership with the United Ways of Texas, Foundation Communities and Goodwill of Central East Texas, offers $25 grocery or discount store gift cards to VITA clients who use a portion of their tax refund to purchase $50-$100 in U.S. Savings Bonds. The project is taking place in 10 Texas communities in the 2014 tax season:
3036 South First St. Austin, TX 78704
United Way of Southern Cameron County
634 East Levee St. Brownsville, TX 78520
United Way of the Coastal Bend
711 North Carancahua St. Suite 302, Corpus Christi, TX 8401
United Way of Tarrant County
1500 North Main St. Suite 200, Fort Worth, TX 76164
Greater Longview United Way
310 South Fredonia St. Longview, TX 75601
Coalition of Community Assistance Volunteers
3212 Avenue Q, Lubbock, TX 79411
Goodwill Central East Texas
301 Hill St. Lufkin, TX 75904
Montgomery County United Way
1600 Lake Front Circle, Suite 248. The Woodlands, TX 77380
United Way of Mid & South Jefferson County
7980 Anchor Dr. Suite 600, Port Arthur, TX 77642
North Texas Area United Way
1105 Holiday St. Whichita Falls, TX 76301
Opportunity Savings Accounts
The Opportunity Savings Account project, a partnership between Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation and OpportunityTexas, has partnered with Border Federal Credit Union in Del Rio and Coastal Community Federal Credit Union in Galveston for the past two tax season to offer filers matched savings in these communities.
Filers receive an up-front incentive (Coastal’s filers receive a $25 gift card for opening depositing at least $250 of their refund into the Opportunity Savings Account and Border’s filers receive a $50 gift card for opening and depositing at least $500 of their refund into an Opportunity Savings Account at the VITA site). Opportunity Savings Account holders are also eligible to receive a dollar-for-dollar match on the difference between their initial refund deposit and their ending balance on January 15, 2015 up to $75.
Coastal Community Federal Credit Union
2302 Church Rear St, Galveston, TX 77550
Border Federal Credit Union
2211 N. Bedell Avenue, Del Rio, TX 78840