United Way, County Federal Credit Union join for tax prep

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — United Way of Aroostook has announced a new partnership with The County Federal Credit Union to sponsor the 2018 Aroostook CA$H Coalition and Free Tax Return Preparation Program.  

Aroostook CA$H stands for Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope.  It is a partnership of community partners working together to help empower individuals and families to achieve long-term financial stability.  The coalition offers free tax preparation to qualified filers during tax season, and educates consumers about programs in the community that can help them increase income, reduce debt and build savings.

This is the sixth year United Way and its partners have offered the free tax preparation program to Aroostook County citizens.  Volunteers prepare taxes free of charge for low- to middle-income households earning less than $54,000, saving clients upwards of $200 in professional preparation costs.  Services will be offered in Fort Kent, Presque Isle and Houlton beginning in early February.

Site coordinators Sandra Bartley and Timothy McMahon provide training to ensure all volunteer tax preparers are IRS-certified, so clients are being taken care of in a professional and skilled manner.  

“This program served over 500 households last year, and of those 500, more than 300 were senior citizens,” said Sherry Locke, United Way executive director.  “The program helped to recover nearly half a million dollars in refunds which went back to the people of Aroostook.  

“We are extremely happy to offer this program and hope to grow it by serving upwards of 700 households,” Locke said. “Because of our partnership with County Federal Credit Union, we are able to expand our program to fill this huge need in our community.”

In addition to free tax preparation, United Way and Aroostook CA$H will offer taxpayers a “next step” to help them set financial goals.  Opportunity Advisors from CFCU will be on hand to meet with clients after they’ve had their tax returns prepared to discuss savings, debt reduction and budgeting.  This piece of the program was established by New Ventures Maine and CA$H Maine to educate people about local resources to help them become financially stable and independent.  

“The County Federal Credit Union has a long history of collaboration with the United Way of Aroostook,” said Dan Bagley, CFCU executive vice president. “The CA$H program offers a tremendous benefit to the Aroostook County community, and we are proud as a credit union team to sponsor this program and provide our employee volunteer support. The mission of ‘people helping people’ is one of the cornerstones of the credit union movement.

“This program is an opportunity for our staff to participate in this mission by helping more families address the implications and benefits of filing their taxes,” Bagley said. “The CFCU staff are very enthusiastic about volunteering their time as opportunity advisors, assisting those program participants who seek financial literacy education and information about the programs, resources and services available in the Aroostook County area.”

Free tax preparation service days are:

In Presque Isle, Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning Feb. 6.

In Houlton, Wednesdays beginning Feb. 7.

In Fort Kent, select Saturdays: Feb. 17, March 3, 17 and 31, and April 7.

To set up an appointment or for more information, call the United Way office at 764-5197.

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