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Employee volunteers help customers maximize tax returns
Entergy's ongoing support of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites demonstrates the company's commitment to empowering families and growing our communities. Since 2009, our support of VITA sites has helped return $298 million to more than 164,000 residents throughout our service area.
For more than 12 years, Entergy employees have volunteered to help customers who qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit receive assistance in claiming the money they've earned. And this year is no different. We will also continue our partnership with community advocates to support free IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance tax preparation services for qualifying customers.
The Earned Income Tax Credit is one of the nation's most effective tools for lifting low-income workers and their families above the poverty line. The federal government estimates EITC has lifted more than 5.6 million people out of poverty, including 3 million children; however, it is estimated that one out of five people who qualify for the EITC fail to claim it. That is where Entergy's support comes in.
We help increase the amount of federal money returned to our customers by raising awareness of the credit and supporting VITA sites to help qualifying customers avoid high fees. Entergy's VITA Plus program also provides customers with the opportunity to receive other services aimed at economic self-sufficiency, such as savings, credit repair, free bank accounts and financial coaching.
Since 2009, Entergy's support of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites has helped return $298 million to more than 164,000 residents throughout the company's utility service area in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The program has resulted in an estimated $450 million in economic benefits to the communities served by Entergy.
This tax season, Entergy will support free tax preparation services in person or virtually at VITA tax preparation sites. Due to COVID-19, many VITA sites are offering drop-off services. Customers can contact their local provider to confirm available services and sign up at getyourrefund.org to get their taxes prepared.
In 2021, employees logged nearly 2,000 volunteer hours helping customers file taxes and claim the EITC. More than 37,000 Entergy customers received $59 million in federal tax refunds through Entergy-sponsored VITA sites, including 7,006 customers who received $16 million in earned income tax credits.