CHICAGO, Jan. 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The 2022 holiday season is winding down, but the Ladder Up office is just beginning to buzz with a flurry of activity. However, these workers aren’t of the toy-making variety. They are financially minded staff and volunteers, and their purpose is to put money back in the pockets of hard-working, low-income Chicagoans (families earning up to $60,000 a year and individuals earning up to $32,000 a year) in the form of free tax returns.
Founded in 1994, Ladder Up has served 750,000 clients and returned $1.42 billion to them. During the 2022 tax season, the nonprofit organization assisted over 15,000 individuals to secure over $21.8 million in refunds. Ladder Up serves families and individuals often marginalized by today’s financial systems due to race, gender, and class identifications. The clients are less able to understand how to prepare an accurate tax return and are most at risk of making costly mistakes. Without Ladder Up’s support, clients are more likely to be taken advantage of by predatory financial providers charging unnecessary fees.
Executive Director Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek said the organization’s impact is connected to the number of volunteers.
“Currently, we know approximately one in every five Chicagoans live at or below the poverty line. We want to be able to serve as many individuals as possible, but to do so means we need more volunteers to help us,” she said.
Ladder Up operates pop-up sites in hard-to-reach areas to making their programs more accessible and serve more clients. Volunteers can aid in a variety of capacities at Tax Assistance Program (TAP) sites from trained tax preparers, case and quality reviewers, site support and greeters. For more information or to register to be a Ladder Up volunteer this tax season click HERE.
Volunteers make real-life impacts for Ladder Up clients. At a previous tax preparation session for a family of five, volunteer Roxanne Chow was able to file a $9,000 tax refund. “Everyone was hugging and crying happy tears,” Chow said. “It really cemented that we are helping people in a very specific way.”
2022 Tax Season by the Numbers:
- On average, a single volunteer helped generate a total of $54,270 in refunds and returns.
- The average volunteer session at a TAP site delivered $2,872 back to the community in tax refunds.
Media Contact: Cat Donovan
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SOURCE Ladder Up