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It’s Saving Season!

January 27, 2021 | Posted in Financial Stability, Uncategorized |

By Dinorah Lopez, Financial Wellness Program Coordinator

W-2’s, 1099’s, 1095’s arriving to your mail/email? It’s time for tax season! Be sure to check out the Prosper Center Tax Help (ProsperTaxHelp.org) on how they can assist you in transmitting your tax return.

There are many components to tax time but this is the perfect time to start saving! If you are planning on receiving a refund here are some options for you:

  • Pay down your debt. This could be the perfect opportunity to pay down your credit card or a loan that you have. Starting small could help reduce the debt you have and overall pay it all off!
  • Work on financial goals. You can continue to work on existing goals you have for yourself or something you developed for your money resolution for 2021 (check out January’s blog post, if you haven’t done so!). Our Financial Coaches are here to discuss your goals and be your accountability partner.
  • Save your refund. With your goals, you can save your refund for a rainy day or start a savings account for a specific goal you have. For example, saving for your child’s education or for a large purchase.

Quick tip! For tax time, if you save $50 into a qualified savings method you can enter a chance to win a prize with SaveYourRefund.org. By splitting your refund with a checking and savings bank account or purchasing a savings bond you can be entered into a weekly drawing.

Our Financial Coaches are extremely knowledgeable and can start having these savings conversations with you. Any individual with an annual income of $50,000 or less or a family of 2-4 with an annual income of $75,000 or less is eligible for Financial Coaching.

Schedule your phone or Zoom appointment with a Financial Coach by calling 737-717-4000 or by visiting our web site at www.foundcom.org/financial-wellness.

Your money resolution: be ready for the New Year

December 23, 2020 | Posted in Financial Stability |

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we need to be prepared for anything. Is one of your New Year’s resolutions is to be more in control of your money? If so, you are in the right place! With any resolution, you can use a few strategies to keep it, such as:

  • Spend time planning. You spend time planning an event, a trip or even making dinner. It takes time to make sure you have everything you need and you can do it in the time you have. A New Year’s resolution is no different. Get your favorite planner out and get your plan down in writing.
  • Break it down into manageable steps. A resolution can quickly feel overwhelming when you get started. But if you break it down to small steps, you’ll see that you can manage it over time.
  • Learn from the pros. Read a book or follow a podcast on personal finance. Or, get a supporter and accountability partner by signing up to meet with a Financial Coach (see details below).
  • Remember that keeping a resolution is a process, sometimes a long one. Don’t get discouraged if you have a setback or don’t make progress as quickly as you’d like. Just re-assess, make adjustments to your plan, and start back up.

Ready to get started? If your New Year’s resolution includes things like making a budget, getting out of debt, putting money in savings, or improving your credit, Financial Coaches are here for you.

Financial Coaching is a free service provided by trained volunteers, who love crunching numbers and helping people. Any individual with an annual income of $50,000 or less or a family of 2-4 with an annual income of $75,000 or less is eligible for Financial Coaching.

Schedule your phone or Zoom appointment with a Financial Coach by calling 737-717-4000 or by visiting our web site at www.foundcom.org/financial-wellness.

Financial Education Spotlight: The Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner offers financial education webinars and resources to all Texans

November 24, 2020 | Posted in Financial Stability |

 

The Texas Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner aims to create a fair, lawful, and healthy credit environment that grows economic prosperity for all Texans. They regulate certain lenders and creditors, and provide consumers with:

Financial Education Webinars – Thursdays in December

Budgeting Basics (Dec. 3, 2020 at 10 am): During our Budgeting Basics presentation we will go over how to track and budget your monthly expenses while setting a financial goals.

Credit 101 (Dec. 10 at 10 am): How often do you check your credit report? Do you know how to dispute something if you find something wrong in credit report? Get the answers to these questions and ask your own during this webinar.

Credit & Saving for Young Adults (Dec. 17, 2020 at 10 am): This webinar goes over the basics of credit and saving. It is meant to be a beginner level presentation for teens and young adults.

Financial Education Resources

budgeting worksheet to help get you on track.

The “4 Steps to Financial Recovery” pamphlet highlights a few helpful steps to recover financially and rebuild credit after experiencing a financial setback.

The Q&A style brochure, Building A Better Credit Report can help if you’re shopping for a car, applying for a job, looking for a home, or simply getting your financial house in order.

El folleto redactado en un estilo de preguntas y respuestas, Para Lograr un Mejor Informe de Crédito, puede ayudarlo si está por comprar un carro o por presentar una solicitud de empleo, o si está buscando una casa, o simplemente está poniendo sus finanzas en orden.

And don’t forget that our Prosper Center Financial Coaches are here to help you create your personalized budgeting and credit plans. Schedule your Zoom or phone Financial Coaching session by calling our Prosper Centers at 737-717-4000, or by visiting our web site, www.foundcom.org/financial-wellness. Financial Coaching will be closed Dec. 24-Jan. 4.

 

¿Soy elegible para un plan de médico del Mercado de Salud?

November 16, 2020 | Posted in Financial Stability, Health |

La mejor manera de determinar su elegibilidad para un plan médico del Mercado de Salud es inscribirse en una cita de admisión con uno de nuestros especialistas en seguros médicos. En general, para ser elegible, debe ser ciudadano de los EE. UU. O estar presente legalmente en los EE. UU., Y no debe estar encarcelado actualmente. Visite ProsperHealthCoverage.org o llame a la línea de ayuda de Cobertura Médica al (512)381-4520 para programar una cita.

La mayoría de las personas que son elegibles para comprar cobertura en el Mercado de Salud reciben ayuda financiera para pagar la cobertura. Más del 90% de las personas que Foundation Communities ayudó en 2019 recibió alguna ayuda financiera. Es posible que no sea elegible para recibir ayuda financiera si tiene otras opciones de seguro médico, como una oferta de seguro médico de su empleador.

 

¿Cuándo puedo registrarme?

La inscripción abierta del Mercado se extiende desde el 1 de noviembre hasta el 15 de diciembre. Esta es la única época del año en la que puede inscribirse en un plan de seguro médico del Mercado, a menos que tenga un evento que califique, como mudarse, casarse o tener un bebé.

¿Cuánto cuesta?

La situación de todos es diferente. Hay una variedad de planes y precios disponibles, según sus ingresos y el tamaño de su familia y el tipo de cobertura que elija. Más del 90% de las personas a las que ayudamos en Foundation Communities obtienen ayuda financiera para pagar la cobertura, lo que reduce el “precio de etiqueta” de las primas mensuales. No permita que las preocupaciones sobre el costo sean una barrera para explorar sus opciones. Nuestros especialistas en seguros médicos lo guiarán a través de los planes y precios. Es posible que se sorprenda de las opciones disponibles.

¿Puedo obtener ayuda financiera para pagar mi plan?

Más del 90% de las personas a las que ayudamos en Foundation Communities obtienen ayuda financiera para pagar su cobertura médica. Los subsidios, o créditos fiscales, pueden reducir el costo mensual que paga por su plan (la prima). También puede ser elegible para recibir ayuda para cubrir los copagos de las visitas al consultorio y otros gastos de atención médica. Nuestros especialistas en seguros médicos lo ayudarán a obtener la máxima ayuda financiera disponible.

¿Cubrirá mi plan alguna condición preexistente?

Todos los planes de seguro médico del Mercado cubren afecciones preexistentes, así como una variedad de otros beneficios médicos. Consulte la lista completa de beneficios de salud esenciales en Healthcare.gov.

¿Un plan de salud del Mercado cubrirá las pruebas y/o el tratamiento del coronavirus?

Los planes de salud del mercado deben cubrir las pruebas y los servicios de laboratorio, aunque la cobertura para pruebas específicas puede variar de un plan a otro. Las pruebas y el tratamiento de COVID-19 están cubiertos por los planes de salud del Mercado, al igual que cualquier otra infección viral.

Si actualmente tiene un plan de seguro médico del Mercado y su hogar se ha visto afectado por COVID-19, comuníquese con nosotros porque es posible que pueda cambiar su plan u obtener ayuda financiera adicional. Llámanos al 512-381-4520. Algunos cambios a considerar:

  • Desempleo
  • Horas reducidas / ingresos reducidos
  • Estudiante universitario que ahora vive en casa porque el campus cerró 

¿Puedo obtener ayuda para encontrar el mejor plan para mí o mi familia?

¡Si! Los especialistas en seguros de salud de Foundation Communities han investigado todos los planes y precios para ayudarlo a encontrar el mejor plan para satisfacer sus necesidades de atención médica y su presupuesto. Puede comenzar registrándose para una cita de admisión inicial en ProsperHealthCoverage.org o llamándonos al 512-381-4520.

¿Puedo cambiar mi plan médico después de haberme registrado?

Puede cambiar su plan médico en cualquier momento entre el 1 de noviembre y el 15 de diciembre. Después de la fecha límite del 15 de diciembre, solo puede hacer cambios si tiene un evento que califique, como mudarse, casarse o tener un bebé. Nuestros especialistas en cobertura médica pueden ayudarlo a realizar cambios en su plan durante todo el año si sus circunstancias han cambiado.

Actualmente estoy desempleado. ¿Qué sucede si consigo un nuevo trabajo después de inscribirme en un plan médico?

La situación de todos es diferente. Si obtiene un nuevo trabajo, comuníquese con nosotros para que podamos ayudarlo a determinar su mejor opción. Llame a nuestra línea de ayuda de seguro médico al 512-381-4520.

Actualmente estoy desempleado y en COBRA. ¿Puedo inscribirme en un plan diferente a través del Mercado de Salud?

¡Si! La inscripción abierta es la única época del año en la que puede cambiar de COBRA a otro plan, a menos que tenga un evento que califique, como mudarse, casarse o tener un bebé. Recomendamos encarecidamente a todos los usuarios de COBRA que exploren sus opciones. Los planes de salud del mercado pueden ser más económicos y es posible que usted califique para recibir ayuda financiera para pagar la cobertura. Puede comenzar registrándose para una cita de admisión inicial en ProsperHealthCoverage.org o llamándonos al 512-381-4520.

Perdí mi trabajo a causa del COVID-19. ¿Cuentan mis pagos por desempleo para determinar cualquier ayuda financiera que pueda recibir para pagar mi plan?

Si. Deberá informar su compensación por desempleo esperada cuando solicite cobertura médica a través del Mercado de Salud. Cuando solicite un plan médico del Mercado de Salud, un especialista en cobertura médica lo ayudará a calcular sus ingresos para 2021 para determinar para qué ayuda financiera califica.

¿Qué pasa si no sé cuáles serán mis ingresos el próximo año? ¿Todavía puedo inscribirme en un plan de salud?

¡Si! Haga una cita de admision con uno de nuestros especialistas en seguros médicos. Le ayudarán a estimar sus ingresos para 2021 y encontrar la mejor opción de plan para satisfacer sus necesidades de atención médica y su presupuesto. Regístrese en ProsperHealthCoverage.org o llame al 512-381-4520.

¿Cuál es la diferencia entre un plan de salud Bronce, Plata u Oro?

Los diferentes niveles determinan cómo usted y su seguro médico dividen los costos de su atención médica. La calidad y el tipo de atención no se ven afectados. Por ejemplo, un plan de nivel Oro puede tener un costo mensual más alto (la prima), pero pagará un porcentaje menor de los costos cuando necesite atención. Un plan de nivel Bronce puede tener primas mensuales menos costosas, pero pagará más cuando necesite atención. Nuestros especialistas en cobertura médica pueden ayudarlo a determinar qué tipo de plan es mejor para sus necesidades de atención médica y su presupuesto.

¿Cómo puedo saber si mi médico está en el plan que elegí o si mis medicamentos están cubiertos?

Cada año, investigamos todos los planes y precios para poder ayudarlo a encontrar el mejor plan para satisfacer sus necesidades de atención médica y su presupuesto. Haga una lista de sus médicos y medicamentos antes de su cita con un especialista en seguros médicos. Revisarán los planes para asegurarse de que tengan la cobertura que necesita. Regístrese para una cita de admisión para comenzar en ProsperHealthCoverage.org o llame al 512-381-4520.

¿Me pueden cobrar más por cualquier motivo, como mi edad o porque soy mujer?

Los planes de salud del mercado no pueden cobrarle más por ser mujer, por estar embarazada o por tener condiciones preexistentes. Se le puede cobrar hasta un 50% más si usa tabaco. Las primas pueden aumentar a medida que envejece.

¿Cómo solicito ayuda financiera para pagar mi plan de salud?

Cuando se inscribe en un plan médico del Mercado de Salud, proporcionará información sobre el tamaño y los ingresos de su hogar. Esto ayudará a determinar cuánta ayuda financiera recibirá. Nuestros especialistas en seguros de salud lo guiarán a través del proceso de inscripción para asegurarse de que califique para la máxima ayuda financiera para pagar la cobertura.

¿Mi crédito fiscal de $1200 de principios de este año cuenta como ingreso para determinar cualquier ayuda financiera que pueda obtener para pagar mi plan?

No. No es necesario que incluya el pago de estímulo/crédito fiscal en los ingresos que declara en su solicitud de Marketplace. Estos pagos no afectan su elegibilidad para recibir ayuda financiera para pagar la cobertura de atención médica a través del Mercado. 

¿Cómo afectará mi estado migratorio mi capacidad para inscribirme en un plan médico del Mercado de Salud u obtener ayuda financiera para pagarlo?

Los inmigrantes que se encuentran legalmente presentes en los EE. UU. Pueden comprar un seguro médico en el Mercado de Salud. Nuestros especialistas en cobertura médica tienen experiencia en ayudar a inmigrantes a inscribirse en un seguro médico y enviar información para verificar su estado, si es necesario. Solo las personas que solicitan cobertura médica deben proporcionar información sobre su estado migratorio. Los miembros indocumentados del hogar que no son elegibles para los planes del Mercado de Salud no necesitan proporcionar ninguna información.

¿La ayuda financiera para pagar los planes médicos del Mercado de Salud cuenta como carga pública?

Recibir ayuda financiera para el seguro médico del Mercado de Salud no cuenta para la determinación de una carga pública para nadie. No tenga miedo de asegurarse usted y los miembros de su familia elegibles. Si usted es un residente permanente legal o un titular de una tarjeta verde, no se le aplica nada sobre la carga pública. Si tiene un estatus humanitario (por ejemplo, si es un asilado o refugiado), no se le aplica nada sobre carga pública.

 

El seguro del mercado y la asistencia financiera no afectan su capacidad para convertirse en residente o ciudadano. ¡Pero pueden ayudarlo a usted y a su familia a mantenerse saludables! Si tiene alguna pregunta o inquietud sobre la carga pública relacionada con los planes médicos del Mercado de Salud, llámenos al 512-381-4520. ¡Estamos aquí para ayudar!

Am I eligible for a Marketplace health plan?

October 30, 2020 | Posted in Financial Stability, Health |

The best way to determine your eligibility for a Marketplace health plan is to sign up for an intake appointment with one of our health insurance specialists. In general, to be eligible you must be a citizen of the U.S. or be lawfully present in the U.S., and you must not currently be incarcerated. Visit ProsperHealthCoverage.org or call the health coverage helpline at (512) 381-4520 to schedule an appointment.

Most people who are eligible to purchase coverage in the Marketplace receive some financial help to pay for coverage. More than 90% of people Foundation Communities helped in 2019 received some financial help. You may not be eligible for financial help if you have other health insurance options, such as an offer of health insurance from your employer.

When can I sign up?

Marketplace open enrollment runs from November 1 through December 15. This is the only time of the year when you can sign up for a Marketplace health insurance plan, unless you have a qualifying event, such as moving, getting married, or having a baby.

How much does it cost?

Everyone’s situation is different. There are a range of plans and prices available, depending on your income and family size and the type of coverage you choose. More than 90% of people we help at Foundation Communities get some financial help to pay for coverage, which reduces the “sticker price” of monthly premiums. Don’t let concerns about cost be a barrier to exploring your options. Our health insurance specialists will walk you through the plans and prices. You may be surprised at the choices available to you.

Can I get financial help to pay for my plan?

More than 90% of people we help at Foundation Communities get financial help to pay for their health coverage. The subsidies, or tax credits, can reduce the monthly cost you pay for your plan (the premium). You may also be eligible for help covering office visit co-pays and other healthcare expenses. Our health insurance specialists will help you get the maximum financial help available.

Will my plan cover any pre-existing conditions?

All Marketplace health insurance plans cover pre-existing conditions, as well as a range of other health benefits. See the full list of essential health benefits on Healthcare.gov.

Will a Marketplace health plan cover coronavirus testing and/or treatment?

Marketplace health plans are required to cover laboratory tests and services, though the coverage for specific tests may vary plan by plan. COVID-19 testing and treatment is covered by Marketplace health plans, just the same as any other viral infection.

 

If you currently have a Marketplace health insurance plan and your household has been affected by COVID-19, please get in touch with us because you may be able to change your plan or get additional financial help. Call us at 512-381-4520. Some changes to consider:

  • Unemployment
  • Reduced hours/reduced income
  • College student now living at home because campus closed

 

Can I get help finding the best plan for me/my family?

Yes! Foundation Communities’ health insurance specialists have researched all the plans and prices to help you find the best plan to meet your healthcare needs and budget. You can get started by signing up for an initial intake appointment at ProsperHealthCoverage.org, or by calling us at 512-381-4520.

Can I change my health plan after I’ve signed up?

You can change your health plan any time between November 1 and December 15. After the December 15 deadline you can only make changes if you have a qualifying event, such as moving, getting married, or having a baby. Our health insurance specialists can help you make changes to your plan year-round if your circumstances have changed.

I’m currently unemployed. What happens if I get a new job after I’ve signed up for a health plan?

Everyone’s situation is different. If you get a new job please reach out to us so we can help you determine your best option. Call our health insurance helpline at 512-381-4520.

I’m currently unemployed and on COBRA. Can I sign up for a different plan through the Marketplace?

Yes! Open enrollment is the only time of year you can switch from COBRA to another plan unless you have a qualifying event, such as moving, getting married, or having a baby. We strongly encourage anyone on COBRA to explore their options. Marketplace health plans may be more affordable, and you may qualify for financial help to pay for coverage. You can get started by signing up for an initial intake appointment at ProsperHealthCoverage.org, or by calling us at 512-381-4520.

I lost my job because of COVID-19. Do my unemployment payments count in determining any financial help I might get to pay for my plan?

Yes. You’ll need to report your expected unemployment compensation when applying for health coverage through the Marketplace. When you apply for a Marketplace health plan, a health insurance specialist will help you estimate your income for 2021 to determine what financial help you qualify for.

 

What if I don’t know what my income will be next year? Can I still sign up for a health plan?

Yes! Make an appointment to get started with one of our health insurance specialists. They will help you estimate your income for 2021 and find the best plan option to meet your healthcare needs and budget. Sign up at ProsperHealthCoverage.org or call 512-381-4520.

What’s the difference between a Bronze, Silver, or Gold health plan?

The different levels determine how you and your health insurance split costs for your health care. The quality and type of care is not affected. For example, a Gold level plan may have a higher monthly cost (the premium), but you will pay a smaller percentage of the costs when you need care. A Bronze level plan may have less costly monthly premiums, but you’ll pay more when you need care. Our health insurance specialists can help you determine which type of plan is best for your healthcare needs and budget.

How can I find out if my doctor is in my chosen plan, or if my medications are covered?

Each year we research all the plans and prices so we can help you find the best plan to meet your healthcare needs and budget. Make a list of your doctors and medications before your appointment with a health insurance specialist. They will review the plans to make sure they have the coverage you need. Sign up for an intake appointment to get started at ProsperHealthCoverage.org or call 512-381-4520.

Can I be charged extra for any reason, like my age or because I’m a woman?

Marketplace health plans cannot charge you more because you’re a woman, or because you are pregnant or have pre-existing conditions. You can be charged up to 50% more if you use tobacco. Premiums can increase as you get older.

How do I apply for financial help to pay for my health plan?

When you sign up for a Marketplace health plan you’ll provide information about your household size and income. This will help determine how much financial help you will get. Our health insurance specialists will walk you through the sign-up process to make sure you qualify for the maximum financial help to pay for coverage.

Does my $1200 tax credit from earlier this year count as income for determining any financial help I might get to pay for my plan?

No. You don’t need to include the tax credit/stimulus payment in the income you report on your Marketplace application. These payments don’t impact your eligibility for financial help to pay for health care coverage through the Marketplace.

 

How will my immigration status affect my ability to sign up for a Marketplace health plan, or get financial help to pay for it?

Immigrants who are lawfully present in the U.S. can purchase health insurance on the Marketplace. Our health insurance specialists are experienced with helping immigrants sign up for health insurance and submit information to verify their status, if necessary. Only the person(s) applying for health coverage need to provide information about their immigration status. Undocumented household members who are not eligible for Marketplace plans do not need to provide any information.

Does financial help to pay for Marketplace health plans count against the public charge?

Receiving financial help for Marketplace health insurance does not count toward the determination of a public charge for anyone. Do not be afraid to insure yourself and your eligible family members. If you are a lawful permanent resident or green card holder, nothing about public charge applies to you. If you have a humanitarian status (for example, if you are an asylee or refugee), nothing about public charge applies to you.

 

Marketplace insurance and financial assistance do not affect your ability to become a resident or a citizen. But they can help you and your family stay healthy! If you have any questions or concerns about public charge related to Marketplace insurance plans, call us at 512-381-4520. We are here to help!

Plan Ahead for a Less Stressed Holiday Season

October 28, 2020 | Posted in Financial Stability | Keywords: , , , , , ,

Needless to say that the 2020 holiday season will be like no other. This year, it’s more important than ever to plan ahead for the expenses that come with the holidays. But cutting down on expenses doesn’t have to mean that your holidays can’t be joyous. Here are some tips for minimizing cost while maximizing enjoyment.

Make a holiday budget. I know, not your idea of joy. But making a holiday budget can keep you from getting overwhelmed with expenses that just seem to pile up over the holiday season. Your holiday budget should include how much money you have or can set aside for added holiday costs, and a list of gift recipients and other expenses. A holiday budget is attached for you to try out.

Look for deals now. Many retailers are spreading their holiday sales over November and December, rather than having one-day deals on black Friday. With your holiday budget in hand, you can save on gifts throughout the coming weeks.

Plan for making (socially distanced) memories instead of buying gifts. This seems even harder to do during a global pandemic, so we have to get extra creative! Some ideas for meaningful, socially distanced activities are:

· Hold a decorating contest over video call. All participants show off their decorated home, room, doorway, or gingerbread house!

· Organize a cookie swap with your neighbors. Neighbors can leave cookies at each other’s front doors.

· Organize a food drive or fundraiser with friends and family. Donate the proceeds to a local charity.

· Send heartfelt hand-written cards to friends and family – make the cards yourself if you’re feeling crafty.

For help creating your very own budget-friendly holiday plan, schedule a phone or Zoom appointment with a Financial Coach. Call 737-717-4000 or visit our web site to schedule your appointment.

Still Need to File Your Taxes? Tax Day is Coming July 15

July 1, 2020 | Posted in Tax Services, Financial Stability | Keywords: , , , , ,

Due to COVID-19 the deadline for filing taxes was extended to July 15. If you still need to file your taxes, Foundation Communities’ free online tax prep services are available for anyone who needs it. With the income tax filing deadline right around the corner, Austinites who need to file their tax return still have time to get help from our IRS-certified tax preparers. We offer absolutely free tax preparation with no fees or deductions from refunds.

Are you expecting a refund? If so, get in touch with us to file your tax return as soon as possible. Your refund can be deposited directly into your bank account. Our IRS-certified tax preparers are experienced at finding every tax credit you qualify for to get the maximum refund available. We file almost all returns electronically so you can get your refund quickly.

Foundation Communities has helped more than 250,000 Central Texans file their taxes since 2006. In March we closed our in-person tax assistance centers due to COVID-19, but re-launched our services online in April. Our IRS-certified tax preparers now work from home and support tax clients online and through phone appointments. Read our interview with tax preparer Johnny LeBlanc to hear what socially distanced tax preparation looks like (hint: it’s basically the same, just at a safe distance).

Our free tax prep website is open 24/7, offering plenty of flexibility for those who need help with their taxes. To get started, visit https://bit.ly/GetYourRefundAustin at a convenient time and use our online questionnaire to enter your tax and household information. After you’ve uploaded your tax documents and finished the questionnaire, a tax preparer will review your information and schedule a phone appointment to go over it with you. We also have online tax prep available in Spanish here: https://www.getyourrefund.org/?new_locale=es&s=FC.

We’re offering online tax prep services through the July 15 deadline, but we encourage you to get started right away to make sure we have time to review and file your return by the deadline. Online tax preparers are available Monday – Saturday. Questions? Email us at taxes@foundcom.org or call 512-610-7374 and leave a message so that staff can return your call.

Need to claim your Economic Impact Payment? Time is running out.

September 4, 2020 | Posted in Tax Services, Financial Stability |

Written by Erika Leos, Financial Wellness Program Manager

While a second stimulus payment is still being negotiated in Washington, there is still time to claim the first payment, but not much! For those who have not received your stimulus payment, here are the dates you need to keep in mind:

Some federal benefit recipients need to act by September 30. The IRS reopened the registration period only for individuals who are federal benefit recipients who didn’t receive $500 per qualifying child payments earlier this year. Use the IRS.gov Non-Filers tool through September 30 to provide information about a qualifying child to receive a $500 per child payment.

Most people have until October 15.

  • If you need to file a 2019 tax return, the tax filing deadline is October 15. The IRS will use the information on your tax return to send you your stimulus payment.
  • If you don’t have to file and do not plan to file a 2019 tax return, use the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here application to provide simple information by October 15 so you can get your payment.

If you already filed your return and need to check the status of your stimulus payment or update your bank account information, you can do that with the Get My Payment tool.

The National Disability Institute’s Financial Resilience Center created two videos in American Sign Language (ASL) to help you determine if you are eligible for the stimulus payment. You can find them on the Deaf & Hard-of-hearing Resources page.

Foundation Communities’ Prosper Centers are here to help you find your next step for claiming your stimulus payment. Call us at 737-717-4000 for tax resources, or to schedule a virtual appointment with a Financial Coach.

 

Sources:

https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_helping-consumers-claim-eip_guide.pdf

https://www.nationaldisabilityinstitute.org/financial-resilience-center/deaf-resources/

Staying Financially Protected During Coronavirus

August 20, 2020 | Posted in Financial Stability |

Written by Jasmine Walia

If you find yourself unable to make payments on bills, loans, or debts, you are not alone. Many of us are experiencing financial uncertainty due to coronavirus. Feeling anxious or overwhelmed is normal, as does not knowing what steps to take to keep yourself and your family financially protected. However, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself and those around you, not just from coronavirus, but also from financial instability.

When you are ready to take action, where should you start? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) is a U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat consumers fairly. The CFBP provides information you can use to financially protect yourself from coronavirus.

Contact financial institutions and discuss payment options, even if you cannot pay right away. Notifying lenders, creditors, or other loan servicers (this includes credit card companies, auto loan lenders, mortgage servicers, and debt collectors) that you are unable to pay or need a payment arrangement may allow for flexible options. Check a company’s website first to see if they have information about working with customer needs and then reach out to them, being prepared to explain your current financial situation, what you can afford to pay, when you can restart regular payments.

Regularly check your credit report to make sure there are no errors or delinquencies. This is especially important if you are working with lenders or other servicers on payment arrangements or forgiveness. Your credit has a lasting impact on your financial stability, so it is very important to make sure everything listed on your credit report is correct. You can request and view your free credit report by visiting annualcreditreport.com.

Be aware of financial scam attempts or fraudulent activities, as scammers often take advantage of people in a crisis. If you receive any suspicious information via email, text, or social media, do not provide any personal or sensitive information. To report a scam, you can provide a complain to the Federal Trade Commission, or contact your local police or sheriff office.

Though these steps may seem daunting, you are not alone in taking action. Foundation Communities has virtual financial coaching available to provide you with assistance as you go through the process of financially protecting yourself. They can also share resources around budgeting, saving, and planning for future emergencies. Foundation Communities is here to support you, as we all attempt to get through this pandemic, both physically and financially protected. Visit https://foundcom.org/financial-wellness/ to get started.

Sources:

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 2020. Protect yourself financially from the impact of the coronavirus. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/protect-yourself-financially-from-impact-of-coronavirus/

Q&A with IRS-certified Online Tax Prep Volunteer Johnny LeBlanc

May 26, 2020 | Posted in Tax Services, Financial Stability | Keywords: , , , ,

Every year Foundation Communities helps more than 20,000 Central Texans prepare and file their taxes and maximize their refund. This year we had to close in-person tax preparation due to COVID-19, but in early April we launched 100% online tax preparation through July 15. Instead of meeting with clients in person, our tax preparers are using a fully online system and meeting with clients by phone to review the tax information they submit online at Foundation Communities’ tax filing portal.

Like many, our IRS-certified tax preparers have transitioned to working from home from their usual workplace at one of the Prosper Center locations or another tax site in Austin. We chatted with Johnny LeBlanc, one of our IRS-certified tax preparers, to hear what motivates him to help Central Texans prepare and file their taxes, and how the shift from in-person to online tax prep is going.

If you still need to file your taxes and/or claim your stimulus payment, our IRS-certified team can help. Are you expecting a refund? Don’t wait! Visit Foundation Communities’ tax filing portal, or call 512-610-7374 for assistance.

How long have you been volunteering with Foundation Communities as an IRS-certified Tax Help volunteer and how did you get involved? 

I started volunteering in 2008. I don’t remember how I first heard about the Foundation Communities tax program (probably a PSA on KUT), but I attended a training session and decided to give it a try.

How did your experience volunteering build upon your previous expertise? What have you learned along the way? 

I’m a retired electrical engineer. Numbers and complexity are not intimidating to me, and I have been doing my own federal taxes for many years, so doing tax returns has been easy. Interacting with so many different people while helping them with their taxes has definitely been a different experience than that of an engineer working for a large company.

The Tax Help program typically is an in-person service, but due to COVID-19 precautions needed to switch to virtual service. What’s it like volunteering virtually? 

It’s very positive that we are still able to help folks with their taxes. Using the tax software is exactly the same as it was at the tax sites and the online platform makes it super easy to communicate with the Foundation Communities staff. The only downside is not being able to interact directly with our clients. I miss that.

What does your virtual volunteer work-from-home space set-up look like?

I’m an old nerd so I have a powerful desktop computer and a very large monitor in my home office, which makes doing virtual tax returns super easy. I have a bird feeder right outside my window so I can see the parent birds frantically trying to keep their fledglings fed and my desk is usually covered with 2 or 3 sleeping cats (often snoring) while I’m doing taxes.

What do you miss most about volunteering in-person at the tax sites? 

Interacting with the Foundation Communities staff and getting to meet our tax clients in person.

When you’re not volunteering, what do you enjoy doing? 

My main hobby is photography, I dabble at digital painting, and I also love visiting and hiking in our national parks (local parks too). I also volunteer at the Austin Animal Center where I try to help get cats adopted.

What’s the last book, movie, or TV show that made you laugh out loud? 

Big Bang Theory

Favorite treat? 

Milk chocolate

For anyone considering getting their taxes prepared virtually, but have never used a virtual service before, what would you want them to know to help them feel comfortable? 

If you are uncomfortable with using our virtual tax service, just think of it as using TurboTax but with real people to do the actual return for you and who will review and explain the return with you before it will be submitted.