Goodwill News

Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland, Inc. Recognized for Tax Preparation Assistance

August 23, 2021: Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland, Inc. (GICMH) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program was recognized with the Service Model and Champion Award from Stakeholder Partnerships Education and Communication (SPEC), the outreach and education function of the Internal Revenue Service’s’ (IRS) Wage and Investment Division.

Backed by the IRS, the GICMH VITA program has helped those with low to moderate income, disabilities, the elderly and limited English speakers file their taxes. This year, the GICMH VITA staff and volunteers completed over 2,359 tax returns for 2020. Community Coordinator for GICMH’s VITA program Sheryl Watson shared, “We appreciate the expertise and commitment of our volunteers to ensure the program’s success.” The VITA program is based at GICMH’s Financial Opportunity Center, located at 15 Capital Avenue N.E. in Battle Creek.

Preston Hicks, Vice President of Workforce Development and Community Relations of GICMH shared, “We’re honored to be recognized for our tax preparation work from among 12,000+ hard working VITA programs in the U.S. We’re especially grateful for the support we receive from the United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region and the IRS.” Hicks further shared, in addition to VITA our Financial Opportunity Center provides our communities with a variety of high-impact programs and services.

For more information on the VITA program and those offered at GICMH’s Financial Opportunity Center, go to www.goodwillcmh.org.

Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland, Inc., one of five Goodwill organizations selected to participate in national pilot promoting employee access to the Earned Income Tax Credit for 2020 taxes.

April 9, 2021: In coordination with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) Center for Education and Workforce and Goodwill Industries International, Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland, Inc. (GICMH) was one of five Goodwill organizations selected to participate in a national pilot promoting employee access to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for 2020 taxes. The project is envisioned to be operated by or in coordination with local Goodwill organizations’ human resources departments.

Twenty-eight states offer the additional EITC, which is a federal benefit for working people with low to moderate incomes. To qualify, working individuals must have earned income from employment and file a tax return, even if they don’t owe any tax or aren’t required to file. EITC reduces the amount of tax owed and may provide or increase a refund.

Designed to reward work, EITC in 2018 was credited with lifting 5.6 million people out of poverty, including three-million children, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The credit reduced the severity of poverty for another 16.5 million working adults and children.

The U.S. Chamber invites the selected Goodwill grantees to participate in its limited community-based pilot to help learn more about this approach for further evaluation. The pilot seeks to:

  1. Increase the percent of EITC-eligible workers who file taxes and claim EITC benefits.
  2. Reduce the time and cost of filing taxes and claiming EITC benefits.
  3. Reduce the error rate in claiming EITC benefits.
  4. Increase the percent who use their EITC benefits to improve their financial wellness, including reducing debt and increasing savings.

As of March 31, 2021, GICMH reached its goal of 50 employees completing their tax returns for the EITC. “Our employees claimed over $35,000 in EITC money,” said Jerry Mainstone, Vice President, Workforce Development and Community Relations.

To reach employees across the GICMH territory a “refund rodeo” was created to encourage employee participation. Financial coaches traveled to retail locations to promote and encourage employees to participate in our VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program.

GICMH’s financial coaches also provide money management, credit building, and debt reducing strategies to encourage saving your return or reducing debt to employees.