Supporting the Economic Security of Low-Income Families during COVID-19

Dollar Bill Plants

For the safety of tax filers, staff, volunteers, and communities, the 10 CA$H Maine Coalitions (cashmaine.org) closed in-person tax sites mid-March and quickly moved to develop new options for people still needing to have their taxes prepared. Our priorities included providing quality service, maintaining physical safety, and protecting tax filers’ information shared virtually while continuing to comply with IRS guidelines. Tax filers able to do their taxes online on their own were provided with free tax filing websites. Those able to do their taxes online and wanting to contact a tax preparer with questions were provided a link to the CA$H Maine tax filing program and contact information for a tax preparer to answer questions. One Coalition was able to offer a no-contact drop off and mail in process, and another site reopened in June with minimal contact in-person services. A number of Coalitions also had volunteers provide phone support to people having difficulties accessing their Economic Impact Payments.

On June 29th, 38 CA$H Maine partners and guests met via Zoom to share learnings from the 2020 tax season and begin to plan for 2021 tax season including debriefing the successes and challenges of the tax season; learning about GetYourRefund, a fully virtual tax preparation program;  and improving volunteer recruitment, training, and retention.  CA$H Maine was invited to present on a panel at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Tax Time Savings Virtual Convening on June 25, describing how Maine Coalitions have used drop-off and virtual services to provide strong tax service, continued operations in emergencies, and helped taxpayers to save.

NVME increased flexibility in our Rainy Day Savings Account and other matched savings programs offered to target populations in response to the crisis. We were surprised to see a number of people who wanted to start new accounts.

Finally, to meet the financial needs of our matched savings account holders and other participants, NVME made changes to our online My Money Works class. Those adaptations included adding a fifth class with a stronger focus on savings, access to online Money Habitudes (a money personality assessment), and opportunities to complete Jump Credit, a program to access credit reports and personalized plans to improve credit.