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Birmingham, Alabama
Contact Information

If you, your business, or organization are interested in becoming a part of the Disability Initiative Workgroup, please contact Shirley Worthington of United Way of Central Alabama at [email protected].

If you are already a member of the Disability Initiative Workgroup and have questions regarding the IRS participation, then please contact Harold Pickens at [email protected].

Disability Initiative Workgroup - Plans for 2010

United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) operates a year round, full service VITA program, including assistance with prior year tax returns back to 2005. UWCA’s United Way Financial Stability Partnership TM of Alabama provided technical assistance to a network of 26 volunteer sites statewide, using 2-1-1 Information and Referral telephone service as the central point of contact. Ten percent of the returns prepared in 2009 were returns for individuals with disabilities. Serving individuals with disabilities is a significant focus of the Financial Stability Partnership's VITA efforts including special outreach in 2009 to state agencies, workforce centers, homeless shelters, substance abuse treatment programs, childcare centers, and other nonprofits.

After the traditional filing season concluded in April, UWCA launched the “It's Not Too Late” campaign, to connect individuals who need tax preparation for 2008 (or for previous years) with volunteer sites in order to access their full refund and to maintain tax compliance. UWCA staff observed that many of the individuals who needed multi-year returns had experienced disruption caused by a disabling injury or illness. Outreach also included information about Individual Development Accounts, and 2-1-1 Information and Referral to assist individuals with accessing other services that they need to maintain or improve their financial stability, and support services related to their disabilities.

Services offered will include: Self Preparation through – After initial pilot last year, plans are underway to distribute how-to information more broadly, especially in areas that are not convenient to volunteer sites, and through organizations that serve disabled individuals who may have difficulty traveling. The website also offers resources for financial education, asset building, health, and education. By introducing this at tax time, individuals get connected with an ongoing resource that is accessible from their homes. As a recipient of the Strengthening Communities Fund award, UWCA will be working extensively in the upcoming year to develop new and customized local content to enhance the existing capacity of Beehive, along with competitive subgrants to local partners to educate community members about this resource.

a) Self Employment Tax Initiative – This is a new program, one of three new sites funded this year by the National Fund for Enterprise Development, a component of the Center for Enterprise Development. Through this program, new partnerships have been established with small business incubators, chambers of commerce, etc. to share information about tax assistance. Workshops are offered to assist individuals who are self-employed with understanding their tax responsibilities and preparing their returns. The scope of this program extends to include Schedule C, which has been excluded from regular VITA services; this program helps to fill that void. Self employment can offer individuals with disabilities the flexibility to adapt the type, hours, and location of work to their needs. These workshops can assist individuals in being successful with their efforts.

b) Advent Debit Cards - UWCA will now have a tool to allow individuals who do not have an established bank account to open a tailored account with debit card access, and have their refund direct deposited. This provides free access to their refund more than a week sooner than by check, reduces temptation to take a Refund Anticipation Loan, eliminates check cashing fees and the risk of carrying cash, and provides a banking option for homeless without a steady address, or individuals who have had accounts closed previously due to overdrafts. UWCA is sharing information about this program with other tax sites who may be interested in offering to their customers as well.

2010 Events
March 15 - REI Tour Workgroup Meeting