Helping families with free tax preparation

Tax Day is well behind us, but Corazón Healdsburg is still feeling the love from those community members we helped meet the April 15 deadline.

Overall, we transmitted returns for 111 local families and seniors, 36 more than our goal of 75.

In coordination with United Way of the Wine Country, Corazon was one of 20 partner sites to participate in the 2019 “Earn It! Keep It! Save It!” (EKS) program. We offered the program on 12 separate days between February 1 and Tax Day, and the coalition of partner sites filed 6,600 tax returns—exceeding the goal of 6,415.

“We set a pretty lofty goal of 75 returns this year,” says Ariel Kelley, CEO of Corazón Healdsburg. “But we were absolutely blown away when we hit our goal only two-thirds of the way through tax season.”

A deeper dive into the numbers shows that 24 local families received the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and 21 families received $39,838 in child tax credits. This equaled total refunds of more than $133,200 locally and $8.9 million for the coalition.

The average local refund was $1,850.

One of the major goals of the EKS program is to get families to sign up for direct deposit of tax refunds so the money goes directly into bank accounts. Data indicates that many lower-income families cash tax checks or borrow against them from payday lenders. The same research indicates that direct deposit of refunds results in greater savings.

We are happy to report that Corazon’s clients had an 83.3 percent direct-deposit rate for returns. Put simply, this means that most of our clients got banked and signed up to put returns directly into their accounts.

It’s hard to imagine how many participating families would have filed their tax returns without Corazon’s help. The average gross income of our tax filers was roughly $27,200—just above the poverty line for a family of four. Without our free services, these families likely would have spent an average of $300 apiece for tax preparation.

Corazon’s free tax preparation services would not have been possible without an incredible team of dedicated volunteers and a grant from United Way of the Wine Country and the donated office space from the City of Healdsburg.

Training for next year’s tax season will begin in November and we are looking for 10 volunteers who can assist with tax preparation or welcoming families into the program. For more information or to sign up, please call 707-395-0938 or email  

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