Financial Empowerment

LEO is deeply committed to financial empowerment in our community.

At the heart of our program is VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), which offers year-round assistance to low-income households, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and those navigating the challenges of limited English proficiency. Beyond LEO’s well-established VITA program, we provide comprehensive support, including tax education, guidance for parents through BabySteps, FAFSA, budgeting, savings, and credit counseling.

Our multifaceted initiatives empower individuals to take control of their finances and strengthen their financial well-being.

   

What is VITA? 

Our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) team of volunteers helps qualified individuals file federal and state income taxes. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. The program runs from February 5th to April 16th. 

Who qualifies for VITA? 

VITA is available to qualifying individuals generally earning $64,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited-English taxpayers.

How do I participate? 

Call to make an appointment 781.581.7220

What do I need to bring to my appointment? Examples below, full list to your left in “VITA Required Docs.”

  • Proof of identification – photo ID
  • Social Security cards for the client, client’s spouse and any dependents
  • Wage and earning statement(s): Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, 1099-Misc from all employers
  • 1099G unemployment form
  • 1099-INT bank interest earned, if applicable
  • A copy of last year’s federal and state returns, if available
  • Forms 1095 A, B, and C, health coverage statement
  • Letter 6419 Advance child tax credit (NEW)
  • Letter 6475 Economic impact payments (NEW)

What is the BabySteps Savings Plan?

The BabySteps Savings Plan is a program that jump-starts families into saving for future education. Every child born or adopted who is a Massachusetts resident will be eligible to receive a $50 seed deposit into his or her MEFA U.Fund 529 account from the State Treasurer’s Office within one year of birth or adoption.

Who is eligible?

Any child who is a Massachusetts resident and was born or adopted less than one year ago is eligible to receive a $50 seed deposit from the State Treasurer’s Office into a MEFA U.Fund 529 account with that child as the Beneficiary. The $50 seed deposit can only be received within one year of the child’s birth or adoption.

How does the BabySteps Savings Plan work?

Families who want to participate in the BabySteps Savings Plan need to open a MEFA U.Fund 529 account through Fidelity. Eligible BabySteps accounts will receive the free $50 deposit approximately 6 weeks after they are opened. After opening the account, families can begin making contributions and will receive information about growing their children’s accounts.

Why open a MEFA U.Fund 529 account at birth?

Opening a MEFA U.Fund 529 account at birth allows more time for savings to accumulate and parents to make contributions to the account. Research shows at-birth children’s savings account programs maximize the opportunity for a positive impact on children’s social-emotional health and development of college-bound identity.

Can someone, other than a parent, open the child’s MEFA U.Fund 529 account?

Yes! Any family member or loved one can open a child’s MEFA U.Fund 529 account as long as that person has all the necessary information.

What information do I need to create an account?

For the account holder (family member or loved one) you will need to provide your:

  • Name
  • Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number (EIN)/Federal Tax Identification Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Legal Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Employment Information (if employed)

For the Beneficiary (the child) you will need to provide his or her:

  • Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Legal Address

What can the savings in a 529 be used for?

529 funds can be used to pay for:

  • K-12 tuition expenses ($10,000 per year)
  • Vocational school
  • Certain apprenticeship programs
  • College costs including tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, and special needs services
  • Repayment of qualified student loans up to $10,000

Impact on Public Benefits: https://www.mass.gov/doc/babysteps-public-benefits/download

 

Additional Resources:

Getyourrefund.org is a FREE virtual service supported by the IRS, U.S. Department of Treasury, and the White House that helps low-income households across America receive high quality tax services from the convenience of their own homes.

IRS Website: www.irs.gov  Customer Service: 800-829-1040

Taxpayer Advocate Service: https://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov   Customer Service: 877-777-4778

Other IRS Free File Programs if AGI is over 58K:  https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free