As tax season draws to a close this month, we want to highlight one of our long-standing partnerships which serves the community from our Ford Resource and Engagement Centers—Accounting Aid Society in Detroit.
Through its Low Income Taxpayer Clinic's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, Accounting Aid Society has provided no-cost tax preparation services to families with household incomes of $60,000 or less for over 50 years. Accounting Aid Society has been able to return about 10% of participating families' income each year, averaging a $1400 return per family, which in some cases can be equal to a full month of rent, clothing for an entire family or groceries for two to three months. And for seniors who are renting, they've helped return upwards of $1600.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program is sponsored by the IRS and several philanthropic organizations, including Ford Motor Company Fund. According to Gabrielle Thomas, Chief Operating Officer of Accounting Aid Society, Ford Fund volunteers in the Detroit area have been supporting and participating in the program for 36 years. Dedicated staff and trained volunteers meet families at various locations all across the city, including two Ford Resource and Engagements Centers (FRECs).
Volunteers from Ford help file upwards of 4,000 returns at the Ford Resource and Engagement Centers on the city's east and southwest sides—that's about $6M on behalf of Detroit families. Aside from the very helpful influx of cash to households, the families whose needs are met through Accounting Aid Society know that their returns are done correctly. The industry average for tax accounting accuracy is around 40%, whereas Accounting Aid Society maintains a 90% accuracy rate. In addition to providing support during tax season, Accounting Aid Society and its dedicated volunteers offer year-round tax and financial planning education. Demystifying taxes helps reduce the anxiety that often arises for families around finances. Year after year, Accounting Aid Society's clients come back. This is all possible because of the volunteers from partner organizations like Ford Fund.
"Our clients tell us that we are their accountants," says Gabrielle. "The challenge is expanding our capacity to reach more families." This year, Accounting Aid Society recruited 140 new volunteers and looking ahead into next year, the organization will need the support of an additional 100 more volunteers. Would you like to support Detroit families in receiving a bigger income tax return this year? As a Ford employee, you don't need to be an accountant to help as Accounting Aid Society provides all the necessary training.