CASH focuses on empowering people with the greatest need to obtain financial security.
CASH offers free tax return preparation services to low income workers including those eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit [EITC] to ensure they collectall credits for which they are eligible. By providing this service, CASH helps low-income workers avoid expensive paid preparer fees which can amount tohundreds of dollars. Clients are also protected from paid preparers who encourage clients to purchase expensive financial products, and predators whoengage in theft of refunds and identities. CASH uses the “tax return moment” as an opportunity to connect clients with a wide variety of resources that canimprove families’ financial wellbeing, such as on site opening of ESL savings and prepaid card accounts, savings programs, health care, financial literacy,public benefits, and job counseling services.
CASH operates two types of sites: (1) Super Site operates with volunteers and staff, 7 days a week, 8-10 hours per day serving 10,000 clients from January
through April. (2) Agency Partner Sites located in community agencies set their own hours of operation; serving an average of 200 clients each.
CASH collaborates with initiatives that work together to reduce poverty. The Asset Partnership led by the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Rochester, is a coalition of agencies who believe centralized, coordinated, asset-building service provision is a vital strategy to reduce poverty. Their goal is to launch a
scalable project that economically improves the lives of 100 families in 3 years. They also aim to achieve this in a manner that facilitates and informs the
larger community-wide goals of the Rochester and Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI). RMAPI has spearheaded an approach acknowledging the many factors that cause and sustain poverty and bringing the community together to address them. RMAPI aims to create better coordination of services and advocates for effective anti-poverty policies in an effort to reduce poverty in the Rochester and Monroe County region by 50% over the next 15 years.
CASH shares their expertise and zip code level data from 10,000+ clients to help inform and guide these efforts. Data includes demographics, interests, income level, savings, etc. By collaborating, CASH seeks to continuously offer insight into efforts that enable real impact towards reducing poverty.
CASH has operated VITA sites within Monroe County since 2003. Before CASH, more than a dozen organizations acted independently to produce approximately 1,000 tax returns. In 2002, the United Way of Greater Rochester brought these organizations together and CASH was created. Since 2003, CASH volunteers have prepared more 155,000 returns returning $253M in total tax refunds; $122M of those refunds include EITC benefits. We have saved low income families over $38M in tax preparation filing fees and opened over 4,900 bank/prepaid card accounts and encouraged families to save $325,000.
CASH serves approximately 25% of Monroe County’s EITC claimants and 6% of taxpayers with an income of less than $50,000. The County’s low-income
households are concentrated in the City of Rochester, where more than 30% of residents have income below the poverty level.
Since 2004, CASH has partnered with local banks and credit unions to open bank accounts on site. CASH began offering clients the option of opening a prepaid card account in 2009. The impact on the direct deposit rate was significant, rising from 59% in 2008 to 81% in 2016. CASH also participates in a national tax time savings incentive program – SaveYourRefund.
Anyone who saved at least $50 was eligible to participate in a weekly prize drawing. More than 180 CASH clients entered the promotion, and 10 were selected as $100 winners and one was a grand prize finalist and received $500.