Serving Monroe, Owen, and Greene Counties

More than $1,700,000 in local tax refunds!

June 2017 - The Free Community Tax Service, a program of United Way of Monroe County and the Financial Stability Alliance for South Central Indiana, helped Monroe and Owen county residents file nearly 2,400 federal tax returns this spring and bring back more than $1.7 million dollars to our community in the form of refunds and tax credits.

Low- and moderate-income residents saved an estimated $705,000 in tax preparation fees. Community partners, including Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), AARP Tax Counseling for the Elderly (AARP/TCE), and 130 IRS-certified volunteers also assisted eligible tax filers in claiming valuable credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC, one of the government’s largest anti-poverty programs, is a refundable federal income tax credit that put up to $6,269 back in the hands of qualifying low- and moderate-income working individuals and families in 2017.

Barry Lessow, United Way Executive Director, said, “The Free Community Tax Service continues to have a measurable impact on local individuals and families, particularly those who are struggling to make ends meet. Over one hundred volunteers and two dozen partner organizations worked together and this year, according to national research, kept over 2,400 people, including 1,500 children, out of poverty. Local residents report they are using their savings to pay bills (61% of responses), buy basics like food and clothing (28%), and get further on the road to financial stability by putting their refund in savings for their family’s future (28%). Ultimately, this creates a stronger community and it reduces demand on our already-overburdened local agencies.”

 At the six VITA sites this year, community volunteers completed 1,052 tax returns., a free online filing system for state and federal taxes, allowed 497 taxpayers to file their taxes for free from the comfort of home. AARP Tax Counseling for the Elderly (AARP/TCE) administered sites at Twin Lakes Recreation Center and the Monroe County Public Library. Monroe County Public Library filed 398 returns and Twin Lakes Recreation Center filed 435 returns.

This year, the Free Community Tax Service had a team dedicated to making bilingual IRS-certified tax preparers available to Spanish speakers. Partners in this specialized effort included the City of Bloomington Community and Family Resources Department, El Centro Communal Latino, and Indiana University La Casa/Latino Cultural Center.. also offered tax preparation in Spanish. Plans are already being made to enhance the bilingual tax preparation site to serve more residents next year.

Amy Leyenbeck, United Way Community Initiatives Director, said, “We’re very appreciative of our local partners and volunteers. Demand for this valuable service continues to grow and we are already making plans that should increase capacity and service for 2018.”

The Free Community Tax Service was made possible through grant funding from the IRS, AARP’s Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), and German American.

Along with United Way of Monroe County and  the Financial Stability Alliance for South Central Indiana, partners of the Free Community Tax Service include 2-1-1, AARP, Bloomington Housing Authority, Broadview Learning Center, Chinese Business Association, City of Bloomington, El Centro Comunal Latino, Ellettsville Branch Library, IU La Casa/Latino Cultural Center, Indiana Legal Services, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Internal Revenue Service, Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington, LifeDesigns, Monroe County Public Library, Owen County Public Library, Positive Link, Salvation Army, South Central Community Action Program, St. Paul Catholic Center, Stone Belt, Twin Lakes Recreation Center, WorkOne Bloomington, and over one hundred community volunteers.

If you are interested in volunteering for the Free Community Tax Service, contact Amy Leyenbeck at amy (at)


Would you like to help ensure our community members have their basic needs met?

Please consider donating to the United Way Essentials Priority Fund. This fund helps individuals and families meet basic needs with access to sufficient food, a stable place to live, low-cost health care, and the information and skills to manage crises.

Want to learn more about the other building blocks for a good life? Visit Education and Earnings to see how we are making an impact.

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  • Monroe Smart Start
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  • Bank On Bloomington