Building Community Capital: MEDA’s VITA Tax Team Returns $5.8 Million to our Community

2209-04212016_FTP-Max Moy-Borgen Photo for Tax Stats Flier and Social_blogWhen MEDA’s Tax Program Manager Max Moy-Borgen woke up on Tuesday, he breathed a deep sigh of relief. That’s because another successful tax season was under his belt. This is an impactful feat when you run the largest free tax preparation service in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Moy-Borgen (photo) counts on his staff, 132 volunteers and funding — from public and private sources — to make this impact possible.

Moy-Borgen also counts the numbers.

Adding up the impact
For the three-month 2016 tax season, which ran from Jan. 18 to April 18, there were 4,130 returns filed for free, with community capital being built via $5.8 million returned to the local Mission community.

These numbers ring all the more powerful when looked into deeper. MEDA’s clients, at its four VITA sites, need a way to have their taxes done at no cost, to save the typical $300 fee. For our clients who received refunds this year, the average annual household income was $24,105 –- about one-third that of San Francisco in general. When you look at what was returned via the average refund plus that tax-preparation fee, the total of $2,176 is 9 percent of their annual household income.

That’s some major building of community capital!

MEDA’s innovative approach
MEDA leverages tax time as an entry point to other free services. Take the example of client Nixon, who was grateful when his tax preparer advised him of a $4,890 refund. The Mission resident is now planning on coming to MEDA to learn about below-market-rate housing rentals.

MEDA’s model emphasizes building long-term family assets via a two-generation approach. Such is the case for Angelica, who used San Francisco’s Working Families Credit to get back her largest refund ever. This municipal version of the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC’s) is a once-in-a-lifetime credit. There were 153 clients MEDA had take advantage of the Working Families Credit. Angelica is now building her credit score and is connected to workforce and financial capability coaching so that her children have a bright future.

Client satisfaction was very high this year. Some of the many comments on MEDA’s anonymous survey were “fast and friendly,” “great help, lovely people” and “see you in 2017.”

While Moy-Borgen looks toward the 2017 season, too, he knows that there’s more work to be done this year. MEDA is a year-round VITA site, with hundreds more tax clients projected to be served throughout 2016. Good thing Moy-Borgen is finally getting some well-deserved rest.

“I am honored to run the largest VITA free tax service in the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re changing lives daily!” states Moy-Borgen about what gets him out of bed every morning.

See 2016 tax season stats here.

Did you know that MEDA prepares taxes year round? Call (415) 282-3334 ext. 178 for your appointment for free tax prep in San Francisco.

Special thanks to the City and County of San Francisco-Human Services Agency, United Way of the Bay Area and Bank of the West for helping low-income residents do their taxes at no cost.


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