Friday, April 4, 2014

March Success Story


 
 
Reginio H., came to us after being long term unemployed and having no income for a little over six years.  Mr. Hernandez has tried other employment services in the community, but unfortunately he was still unable to find employment. Within a nine year time frame his prior work experience was in a wide range of industries and no position was the same. Upon program entry, he received intensive one-on-one coaching sessions to determine his transferable skills in order to make him marketable for employment. His sessions also included: a mock interview, resume and cover letter revisions, employment referrals and job search options. Within a few months of his participation and determination he was able to find part time employment with the possibility of full time.  As a result, he received support services offered from the Center to assist with transportation for the first month. Not only has Mr. Hernandez increased his income he will also receive paid training from his new employer.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Top 10 Ways to Save: How Will You Maximize Your Refund?

There are many ways to spend your tax refund this year. Before you hit the mall, take a few minutes to check out the Top 10 Ways to Save and do more with your tax refund. Prosperity Center Coaches can help you develop a savings plan, manage debt and expenses, and achieve your financial goals.


1. Buy a Savings Bond:


With the Tax Time Savings Bonds program you can save part of your tax refund with U.S. Savings Bonds. For as little as $50, you can buy a savings bond and start saving for your family’s future.
  • Savings bonds can help you by setting aside money for emergencies, or to get closer to your goal to buy a home, pay for education or save for retirement. 
  • You can buy bonds in someone else’s name to give as gifts and help your loved ones reach their dreams. 
  • To buy a savings bond, check the box on the paper or online tax form and indicate the amount of the savings bond(s) you want to buy. If you are filing a paper return, use Form 8888
  • Watch your mailbox: You will get your savings bonds in the mail 3 to 5 weeks after you receive your tax refund. 
  • Learn more about buying savings bonds with your tax refund.
For FREE tax preparation services, schedule an appointment at our VITA site, or visit myfreetaxes.com/pckc

2. Pay down your debt and overdue bills:


If you have overdue bills or loans, use your tax refund to pay them. Once your debt is gone, you’ll have more spending money and you may even sleep better at night.
  • Late fees and interest charges can add up quickly and they can ruin your credit. 
  • Start by paying your bills, credit cards or loans that charge the highest fees and interest rates. 
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your debt, get free help from our Financial Coach. Schedule a Program Overview today.

3. Open a savings account:


Having a bank or credit union account will help you
  • have a safe place to keep your money, 
  • save money by avoiding check cashing fees, 
  • get into the habit of saving, 
  • establish a financial history, and 
  • get affordable car and home loans in the future.

4. Create an emergency fund:


Deposit your tax refund into your savings account to save for a rainy day. Or better yet, open a separate savings account or money market account at your bank or credit union. That way you can avoid using your emergency account on a regular basis and your money will be there when you need it. You should try to save the amount of money you would need to pay your regular expenses for one to three months in your emergency fund.

5. Save for retirement


You are never too young to start saving for retirement. You’ll need more than what you’ll get from Social Security to retire. Use your tax refund to add to your retirement account or find out how to open a retirement account if you don’t have one already.

6. Save for education


B.B. King once said, “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” Give your child—or yourself—the chance to go to school and have a better future. Put your money in a college savings fund so your money can grow safely and tax-free. Or use your tax refund to get a GED so you can get a better job.

7. Repair your home


If you own a home, you know it’s hard to set aside money to fix it up. With more cash in your pocket, you can make needed repairs to your home, whether it’s replacing a broken appliance, fixing a leaky roof or adding insulation to save you money on heating and cooling costs.

8. Start a Business


Your tax refund can be a great way to jumpstart a small business. Visit our partners at KCSourceLink to learn about resources available to you to help start your own business.

9. Take advantage of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)


Food Stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a government program that gives households money to buy food.

Programs vary but in many states, if you receive SSI or SSDI, you may qualify to get SNAP benefits as well. Plus, if you’re applying for or receiving SSI, you may also be able to get SNAP information and an application at your local Social Security office. Those who qualify get an Electronic Benefit Transfer order EBT card that can be used like a debit card at many grocery stores, gas stations, and farmers’ markets.

Schedule a Program Overview, then meet with our Income Supports Specialist to find out if you qualify SNAP.

10. Take advantage WIC: Nutrition for Women, Infants and Children


WIC is a federal nutritious food and education program for women, infants and children — specifically, pregnant moms and kids under five. Programs vary state to state but the average monthly benefit is forty dollars!

Keep in mind that just because you get WIC benefits doesn’t mean others won’t. All who qualify, benefit! Plus, if you receive SSI, you may qualify to get WIC benefits as well. WIC benefits include nutritious food or coupons to buy things like milk, juice, eggs, cheese, cereal, and formula. And, access to free health services like prenatal care, immunizations, nutrition advice, and parenting education. Find out if you or your children qualify for WIC today by visiting

Schedule a Program Overview, then meet with our Income Supports Specialist to find out Missouri and Kansas requirements for WIC.

Friday, February 21, 2014

April is Money Smart Month in Kansas City. Join The Prosperity Center, Rockhurst University and Catholic Charities for Free Film Screenings. We will discuss financial education and personal finance literacy topics including:
  • Banking
  • Budgeting
  • Money management
  • Saving and investing
  • Financial planning
  • Credit
  • Debt management
  • Financial decision making
  • Financial fraud and scams
  • and more!


The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) starring Will Smith
Friday, April 11 from 7:00pm-10:00pm 
Lucky (2010) an HBO documentary
Friday, April 25 from 7:00pm-10:00pm


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Free IRS-Certified Tax Preparation

The Prosperity Center is an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site offering FREE tax preparation for individuals and families with gross annual household income of $52,000 or less.

Our site is located in the Rockhurst Community Center at 54th Street and Troost Ave from 8:00am to 12:00pm on Saturdays during this tax season.

Registration is required for volunteer assistance, but you can self-file your federal returns and state returns for free at www.MyFreeTaxes.com/PCKC.

Register on our website or call to schedule an appointment.

What to bring:
  • Social Security card for each family member or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) assignment letter
  • Valid photo ID
  • W-2 forms from all jobs worked in 2013
  • All 1099 forms for other income, if any
  • Total paid for child care, provider name, address and tax ID
  • Any other tax-related documents for 2013
  • Proof of bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of refund 
  • A copy of your 2012 tax return (if available)
  • All adults on return must be present to sign
Prosperity Center Tax Volunteers can help your refund grow by depositing it into your savings account, retirement account or US Savings Bonds. Let us help you file your taxes and plan for your future financial goals!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tax Season Volunteer Opportunities


The Prosperity Center has a number of volunteer opportunities this tax season. As an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Site, we offer free tax help to individuals and families with incomes under $52,000. Volunteers of all skill levels are welcome. Contact us to sign up.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED:

Site Coordinator
Manage all facets of a VITA site, including managing volunteers, setting up the Site, transmitting returns, contacting clients concerning rejected returns, retransmitting corrected returns, and collecting and submitting data. The Site Coordinator must be comfortable using a computer and have the ability to use Microsoft Windows-type programs. In general, advanced-level tax certification is required.

Financial Specialist 

Help Prosperity Center clients understand the value of transactional and/or savings accounts. The Financial Specialist may open accounts for clients who choose to establish one of these relationships. Computer and Internet experience is required for this position. A background in financial education or financial services is helpful.

Greeter 

Act as the initial contact to the taxpayer, helping coordinate traffic flow and ensuring that the taxpayer qualifies for free tax assistance. The Greeter has each client sign in and provides information sheets to be completed. No income tax knowledge is necessary for this position.

Information Assistant 

Gather appropriate documentation for the Tax Preparer, reviews the client information sheets for completion, and provides appropriate data as noted on information sheets. No income tax knowledge is necessary for this position.

Interpreter 

Facilitate bilingual communications between the clients and the tax preparer. No income tax knowledge is necessary for this position.

Quality Control Reviewer 

Check each return for accuracy and completeness before it is transmitted. The Quality Control Reviewer completes and initials a checklist for each return. Advanced-level tax certification is required.

Tax Preparer 

Review client documentation, interview the client, and prepare the client’s personal federal, state, and local income tax returns on a computer. You must be comfortable using a computer. Basic-level tax certification is required.

Tax Coach 

Help taxpayers who choose to prepare their own returns under the assisted self-preparation model. The Tax Coach must be comfortable using a computer and have the ability to use Internet tax programs. It is recommended that you be familiar with completing your own tax returns. Basic-level tax certification is required.