Taxpayer Services Program
Within the Taxpayer Services Program over the past two years, P+P has made great strides in market research, meeting demand, and integrating innovations to increase efficiency and improve customer satisfaction. Here are P+P's totals for 2016:
*Served 13,456 customers.
*Returned over $25 million in refunds
*84% of customers received direct deposit
*Served 941 self-employed customers
*Assisted 1,663 customers through remote tax preparation.
*Recruited and trained 575 volunteers serving a total of 28,607 service hours.
Financial Capability Program
Within its Financial Capability Program, P+P has exceeded grant targets and provided customers with tools, support, messages, products, and services to improve their financial capability, which is also a key component of the Asset+ Model. P+P’s services extend through October, so 2016 numbers will increase.
P+P helps people leverage the tax time money moment – when they receive an average tax refund of $1,925 – to assist them in building brighter financial futures. P+P does this by pairing free tax preparation with a savings campaign to encourage people to save, in addition to financial services and coaching to help customers work toward their financial goals. P+P hopes to increase the percentage of people served with financial services within the Asset+ Model site from 27% to 40% from 2015 to 2017 by building volunteer capacity to deliver products and services. So far, P+P has seen progress in 2016, including:
*Assisted 1,234 customers in saving $1,920,666, an average of $1,654.
*Opened 836 prepaid cards.
*Opened 90 new MyRA retirement accounts.
*Pulled 738 credit reports.
Volunteer Recruitment and Training
Over the past years, P+P:
*Recruited 558 volunteers who gave 25,356 total hours of service in 2015 and 575 volunteers who have given 28,372 hours of service so far in 2016.
*Had a volunteer retention rate (year-to-year) of 48% in 2015 and 55% in 2016. In P+P’s volunteer survey, 90% and 93% (in 2015 and 2016, respectively) of volunteers agreed or strongly agreed that training effectively prepared them for their respective volunteer roles.
Since the beginning of Money Mentors, P+P’s financial coaching program, the organization has served a total of 225 people, which is a duplicated number, since participants have the option to continue in a subsequent cohort if they choose to do so. The program pairs volunteer financial coaches with participants to set financial goals, build skills and knowledge, and take concrete steps toward achieving their goals over six months. Money Mentors includes group workshops and peer learning discussions to encourage information exchange and community building among participants. Money Mentors is designed to help people increase their financial capability, self-confidence in their ability to work toward financial goals, savings behavior, and credit score, and decrease debt loads. So far, the program has served five cohorts, and P+P has 112 participants in its current cohort.
Outreach, Policy, Advocacy, and Systems Change
In addition to the activities noted for the Taxpayer Services and Financial Capability programs, P+P engaged in outreach, policy, and advocacy to address tax and financial services issues on multiple levels.
P+P has managed the Claim It! campaign to increase utilization of the Earned Income Tax Credit and support free tax assistance since 2012. In 2015, P+P distributed Claim it! materials to 312 organizations, including envelope stuffers, posters, flyers, and tax credit guides, a booklet about common tax credits claimed by low- to moderate-income taxpayers. In 2016, P+P distributed Claim it! materials to 316 organizations, and these materials including 72,225 envelope stuffers, 54,912 flyers, and 8,500 tax credit guides.
Policy and Advocacy
P+P plays a role in state and federal systems to advance policies that benefit low- and moderate-income individuals and families in the issues of consumer protection, tax policy, and asset-building. On the state level, P+P:
*Supported efforts by the Minnesota Budget Project to maintain funding and improvements to the Minnesota Renters’ Credit.
*Testified twice in the Minnesota House and Senate Tax Committees to support an increase to the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Governor Mark Dayton asked P+P to identify a customer to speak at a press conference in support of this credit. While the Minnesota House and Senate introduced bills to expand the amount and eligibility for this refundable tax credit, there was no bill passed.
Systems Change Work
With the generous support of the Northwest Area Foundation, P+P serves as the coordinating organization for the Financial Access in Reach (FAIR) Initiative, a project to address the financial capability of the financially underserved through the pilot and eventual full launch of a FAIR suite of financial products to help people transact, save, and (re)build credit in a safe and affordable way. P+P anticipates launching a pre-pilot with 50 consumers in the fourth quarter of 2016 and a full pilot with 300 consumers in the third quarter of 2017. P+P has scheduled a launch of the pre-pilot and enrollment events for the fall of 2016.
FY17 organizational objectives
Goal 1: Substantially increase the financial security of more low-and moderate-income taxpayers by providing high quality services.
*Sustain the number of customers served with tax preparation by serving more than 13,000 taxpayers. Develop tax education tools for self-employed customers and increase customer understanding of P+P’s mobile and online technology to access services.
*Boost capacity of the tax time financial services program by further expanding the pool of volunteer financial advocates to reach an average of 35% of customers with at least one product, service or referral and supporting 1,100 customers to save some of their refund. Begin to evaluate the success of our “Got Some, Save Some” campaign to learn best practices in moving people to save and to understand the impact of tax time savings on longer-term financial health.
*Implement a new participant-led, peer-based financial coaching model in the Money Mentors financial coaching program and continue to reach 100 participants with 25 trained volunteer financial coaches every six months. Explore new ways of collecting data and improving participant outreach and retention.
*Foster relationships with current TA partners and cultivate relationships with 2 to 3 prospects. Redesign training program options to better reflect the needs of partners and P+P’s capacity.
*Evaluate marketing, outreach, and communications strategies and messages to best reach target audiences with information about P+P services and the statewide Claim it! campaign.
Goal 2: Advocate with and on behalf of low- and moderate-income people to influence and strengthen policy in areas such as asset building, tax policy, and consumer protection.
*Work with national partners to continue to advocate for increased funding and protection for the VITA program, and to sustain and support refundable tax credits for low-income households, with a particular focus on expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for single (childless or non-custodial) and younger tax filers.
*Help pass the Tax Time Savings bill and expand the Minnesota Working Family Credit in 2017, and explore opportunities to advance paid preparer regulation sometime between 2017 and 2018.
*Identify and engage 60 customers and 10 volunteers in the media and in advocacy efforts, including story collection.
*Build out the co-branded FAIR product suite and product enrollment infrastructure to test the FAIR financial solution with 50 consumers. Evaluate process, and use learnings to refine products and enrollment strategy with an aim to pilot FAIR with up to five external organizations to reach 300 consumers at the end of FY17.
Goal 3: Strengthen organizational capacity and creativity that fosters smart, sustainable growth.
*Foster a healthy, high functioning workplace in which staff feels supported, productive, and nurtured. Employ new methods to foster cross-department and functional team-building and collaboration.
*Increase funding for organizational growth by maximizing opportunities for new and existing grants and increasing grant revenue by $150,000; growing individual giving to $215,000 (an increase of $40,000); and exploring opportunities within the governmental and corporate sectors.
*Improve organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts in its recruitment and retention of staff and volunteers, its reach in communities served, and its delivery of service.
*Test and implement new technologies to create greater effectiveness and efficiency with direct service, training, volunteer management, and marketing.
Community or Constituency Served
P+P’s programs and services are available to low- and moderate-income taxpayers living in the Twin Cities metro area with annual income of $30,000 or less, and families and self-employed taxpayers with annual income of $53,000 or less. In 2015, 57% of customers were below 100% of the poverty level; 28% were between 100-200% of poverty; and only 15% were above 200% of poverty. The average annual income for P+P’s customers was approximately $16,100.
Of P+P’s customers, 7% self-identified as African, 26% as African American, 2% as American Indian or Native American, 5% as Asian, 37% as Caucasian or white, 12% as Latino or Hispanic, and 8% as Multi-Racial or other. For age, 0-17 year olds made up 1% of the people benefiting from services, while 8% were 18-22, 63% were 23-54, 18% were 55-64, and people 65 and older made up 11%.
Approximately 36% of customers’ households included a person with a disability, and 19% of customers spoke a primary language other than English at home.