At 19 years old, Kimberly Brown has never done her own taxes before. Yet since January, Brown and 13 of her AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps colleagues ages 18 to 24 have filed taxes for over 1,000 people for free, amounting to $2 million in returns. After two days of tax preparation training, the group is now serving low to median income families who make below $66,000 per year.
AmeriCorps NCCC members complete service projects related to environmental conservation, infrastructure improvement, and urban development over 10 months. Brown’s AmeriCorps NCCC group called Gold 6, recently completed a few months of disaster relief service following Hurricane Harvey in Texas. After “mucking and gutting homes” that were destroyed by the hurricane, Brown said that they’re now focusing on interpersonal relations by filing taxes with non-profit United Way of King County. Group 6 will serve at 30 locations throughout King County until April 3.
“It fills the need of a vulnerable population in Seattle,” Brown said. “People who can’t afford to pay to have their taxes done can come here and get them done for free and a lot of people who try to do them by themselves … don’t know about all the credits that they can receive, so our main goal is to also get them back as much money as possible.” This is especially important in Seattle, where over 900,000 tax returns filed in the area were by people who reported making less than $50,000, according to a Seattle Times report.
Brown has seen the impact that she’s made on people who need it the most. When Brown was preparing taxes at the Douglass-Truth branch of the Seattle Public Library last week, she helped a woman who feared the amount she would owe. She’d had to sell her condominium last year because she couldn’t continue paying the mortgage. But much to the client’s surprise, she received a $900 tax return. Brown wasn’t phased because she’s sometimes found as much as $7,000 in returns by the end of a preparation. “But she immediately started crying. She couldn’t believe it,” Brown recounted. “It was just a really touching story and she was very excited to get money back, to have that help, and to hopefully get her foot in the door, so she can … have a grasp on her financial responsibilities throughout the next year.”