Kara Belanger,* a single mother of two boys, works fulltime as a rehab technician for the State Department. Often exhausted, Kara finds it difficult to balance her time between the reward of her career and the enjoyment of her family life. In addition to maintaining a home and working full time, Kara is attending classes in hopes of becoming a life coach for the state, bettering herself and her boys.
Having recently separated from her husband, Kara has found her situation to be overwhelming and financially difficult. While struggling to stay enrolled in school, she has found it to be a challenge to work fulltime and still be able to spend time and provide the support that her two boys need. At approximately $30,000, Kara’s paycheck barely covers the bills with little left over for anything else. Barely scrapping by, there isn’t any specific necessity that their family has had to go without, but they know that at any moment their situation could shift and Kara is thankful that she is able to put money away for just such an occasion.
Having found out about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program through a flyer distributed at her work, Kara has been taking advantage of VITA for two years. Kara knows that she could not have afforded to have a paid preparer submit her return to the IRS and she does not know what she would have done if the program didn’t exist. Kara is thankful and impressed by the volunteers who give up their time to prepare her taxes for free, and has considered volunteering as well to return the favor for what has been done for her.
Receiving more than $500 in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has meant that her family has been able to provide for their necessities and household items. Receiving the EITC has allowed Kara to guarantee their car will remain on the road because she was able to purchase new tires and pay for much needed repairs that had been previously ignored. In addition, Kara has been able to put some of her return into savings and provide new clothes for herself and her sons. This is the second year Kara has received the EITC and she says that she is so grateful that at times she feels as though she could cry. Receiving the EITC has given Kara the opportunity to take charge of her money and the ability to choose how she spends her money without worry.
Kara is able to remember by name both of the volunteers who have helped her in the past two years. Kara is a true believer in the EITC and despite the hardships of being a single mother, she looks to the positive; even though she is often tired, she is happy.
*Names have been changed.
Half in Ten and the Coalition on Human Needs thank the Community Action Partnership of Utah and the National Community Tax Coalition for sharing this story.
- U.S. Census Bureau, “American FactFinder,” 2007 American Community Survey (accessed May 2011). Data came from the following tables: Statewide poverty percentages, GCT1701, Ratio of income to poverty level, C17002
- U.S. Census Bureau, “American FactFinder,” 2009 American Community Survey (accessed May 2011). Data came from the following tables: Statewide poverty percentages, GCT1701, Ratio of income to poverty level, C17002
- Half in Ten analysis of Table 1, 2007 State Expenditure Report, National Association of State Budget Officers.
- Half in Ten analysis of Table 1, 2009 State Expenditure Report, National Association of State Budget Officers.
- IRS EITC09. EITC09PY Table as of 12/31/10. IRS Master File, posted to IRS website, EIC Participation For Tax Year 2009, by State.