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Omaha, Nebraska
 

 

Contact Information

If you, your business, or your organization is interested in becoming part of the local efforts of the Disability Initiative Workgroup, to make free tax preparation services and asset building opportunities more accessible to persons with disabilities through our Outreach Campaign, please contact Ed Leahy, Omaha EITC Coalition Director at [email protected].

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

 
 
Disability Initiative Workgroup

The Omaha EITC Coalition formed a Disability Impact Subcommittee in the summer of 2009 to plan activities for the 2010 Tax Season, principally focused on a week-long outreach at VITA sites from March 8-13.

The week began with a modified vehicle show and focused on tax credits and budget saving strategies for persons with disabilities. Despite a cold, wintery mix on the kick-off day, the week and other outreaches throughout filing season were a success.

For the third year in a row, figures indicated that 10% of our customers were persons with disabilities. We also asked our customers a number of survey questions to better understand them and plan for new activities in the coming year. Among all our customers, persons with disabilities had the highest rate of 4-year degrees.

Pie chart displaying education levels of persons with disabilities
 

It is not surprising that 58% of our customers rent. Among races, Latinos were the highest rate of homeowners, then Blacks, then Whites, but persons with disabilities rated highest among any group of homeowners.

Pie chart detailing homeownership rates amongst persons with disabilities

With that surprising statistic in mind, we plan to do more homeowner education and outreach with our PWD cuistomers in the coming year through our partners at Family Housing Advisory Services, which is the parent-agency of our EITC Coalition.

Our Coalition also participates in the America Saves Campaign, opening bank accounts for unbaked customers at tax preparation time as well. Our campaign has evolved into launching a “Bank on the Heartland” Campaign with local financial institutions which will begin opening accounts for un/underbanked invidivduals October 13, 2010 and focus on a major expansion to scale at the beginning of tax season 2011.

 
America Saves - Ohmaha Logo
 
Pie chart detailing bank accounts of persons with disabilities   Pie chart detailing reasons persons with disabilities are unbanked

Persons with disabilities evidence a higher bank account ownership rate than any other group, mostly due to the direct deposit of Social Security, Veteran’s or other supplemental payments. Still, among reasons for not having a bank account, trust was high. We believe some of this may be attributable to a lack of cultural competency and disability awareness.

Since the VITA sites will be the front-line of the Bank On campaign, we made dramatic steps to expand our volunteer training to include more topics on customer service, cultural competency and disability awareness. Our partners at Goodwill and the Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation provided the training to over 121 volunteers in 2009-2010.

Our volunteers are encouraged to review with taxpayers the planned use of their refunds as a step toward increasing a family’s financial stability. Results indicated that most persons with disabilities are unable to save or leverage their refund in broader ways because of lower income limitations and fears of losing important public benefits that sustain them throughout the year. We hope to do more educational seminars on public benefits interactions and policy advocacy with our legal partners who have more freedom to move people on policy issues than our Coalition does.

Chart displaying use of tax refund
 
Important Dates and Campaign Objectives for 2010-2011:

Continue Disability Impact Subcommittee through the Omaha EITC Coalition Subcommittee will prioritize four things for the coming year:

  1. Financial Education topics for the PWD customers (Homeowner education, Savings Strategies, Asset Development Opportunities in our IDA program)

  2. Public Policy Issues to be promoted through key partners (Benefits Interaction, Raising State Asset Limits/Avoiding “Cliff Effect,” ABLE Act)

  3. Develiping new partners (among those already identified, South Omaha Community Care Council, Mid-Continental Region of Libraries of Medicine, Nebraska Medical Center Community Outreach) for our awareness week in March.

  4. Identify funding sources to aid in education, promotion and execution of events in the outreach week.



2012 Events

March 15, 2012: The REI Tour joined Internal Revenue Service, EITC Coalition of Omaha, Family Housing Advisory Services, Inc. and Goodwill Industries for a disability workgroup meeting in Omaha. Download the PowerPoint presentation from the meeting.

2010-2011 Events
 

October 2-15, 2010: Exhibition Table at the 10th Annual Bi-National (US-Mexico) Health Week Conference, which brings together advocates from 40 states, 3 Canadian provinces, and consular networks from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in Omaha.

October 13, 2010: Soft Launch of Bank on the Heartland
 
October-November, 2010: VITA Volunteer training on disability awareness.
 
January 12, 2011: Public Launch of Bank on the Heartland
 
January 25, 2011: VITA Sites Open
 
March 5-12, 2011: Disability Awareness Week at VITA Sites