As a coaching program and IRS free tax provider, we knew that tax refunds held promise but were so often used not as an income support, but as a way to smooth out previous debts. We started to work to understand how tax policy could be a good foundation for wealth building. We found that the majority of our filers saving at tax time were women-led households, who were more motivated to save for their children’s futures. We also realized that women were more likely to repeat positive savings behaviors in future tax seasons. Yet, they struggled to save because they were disconnected from mainstream financial services.
We leveraged these lessons from on-the-ground practitioners towards lasting change by looking for the right opportunity and financial product to connect our customers intentions with the actual resources to save. We found 529 college savings accounts to be the perfect fit: 529 accounts are well-known, safe, provide continued access for future contributions, and have built in tax benefits, plus establish a portal to traditional financial markets through Vanguard mutual funds.
Together with Citizens’Committee for Children of New York and the New York Asset Development Coalition, we advocated for Refund529. We are grateful to the bill’s sponsors, Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester County) and Senator Thomas Croci (R-Suffolk County), who introduced it to both houses where it was voted through almost unanimously.
January 1, 2007
The first integrated financial coaching and tax preparation model
April 15, 2009
Accomplished second highest contributions rates among partners in Commonwealth’s Refunds-2-Assets and NYC Office of Financial Empowerment’s Save NYC program
September 1, 2012
A policy recommendation on splitting the state refund
January 1, 2013
Begin partnering with Citizen’s Committee for Children of New York
October 1, 2014
A coalition of eight nonprofits serving 50,000 working poor each year
November 8, 2016
There are many ways you can join the Refund529 campaign to ensure its success in 2018. The Clinic’s current priorities include:
During the 2018 tax season we will keep the momentum building: