Story in Brief
Household finance in the rural South is incredibly dynamic with the highest rates of poverty and the highest number of persistently poor counties in the country. UGA Extension empowers individuals with the knowledge, skills and tools for effective management of financial resources for long-term well-being. The Wilkes County Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agent provided Virtual Income Tax Assistance (VITA), a free program that offers tax preparation and filing at no cost. Working with UGA’s undergraduate and graduate students in the financial planning program and teaching and research faculty, the agent was certified by the IRS to prepare many types of tax returns, including those claiming the earned income tax credit (EITC) and additional child tax credit (CTC). She coupled this service with several programs and training sessions to help people manage their finances. Of the 27 families that took advantage of the VITA program, there was a total of $26,041 received in federal refunds and $3,975 received in state refunds for Wilkes County residents. Regardless of the family’s circumstances and obligation to the IRS, of the families serviced, all received the impact of savings on tax preparation. The the families were given the opportunity to commit to saving through the online saving pledge. As a group, they saved a total of $7,012 through the Save Your Refund Campaign, an increase from $908 in 2019.