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FAQ: What to Know About Online Tax Prep and Stimulus Checks

April 29, 2020 | Posted in Tax Services, Financial Stability, In the News | Keywords: , ,

Is free tax preparation available during COVID-19 closures?

Yes! Foundation Communities has partnered with GetYourRefund.org to offer free online tax preparation for the local community. You provide your household information and tax documents, and our IRS-certified tax preparers will complete and file your tax return. Visit bit.ly/GetYourRefundAustin to get started. We are not offering in-person tax preparation due to the coronavirus and social distancing restrictions.

When can I get help with my taxes?

Free tax prep will be available through the extended IRS filing deadline of July 15th. Our IRS-certified tax preparers are available Monday – Saturday, but you can submit your documents any time. Once you’ve submitted your tax documents online, your tax preparer will schedule a phone call with you to review everything.

Is online tax prep available in other languages?

Currently, our online tax prep site is available in English only. We are hoping to launch a Spanish version by the end of May. If you need help accessing our tax prep, you can reach our bilingual (English/Spanish) tax team at 512-610-7374.

Is there a penalty for waiting until July 15th to file my taxes?
The IRS extended the filing and payment deadline for 2019 tax returns to July 15, 2020, so there is no penalty for waiting to file. All taxpayers can take advantage of the extended deadline due to coronavirus. If you are expecting a refund, we urge you to let us help you file your tax return as soon as possible.

Will filing online make my refund come sooner?

If you are expecting a refund, we urge you to file your taxes as soon as possible and claim your refund. We are able to file your return electronically with the IRS, which is the fastest way to get your refund. Your refund will be directly deposited to your bank account. Visit bit.ly/GetYourRefundAustin to get started with free online tax prep. The IRS is not currently processing mailed paper returns because of COVID-19 closures. Filing online is the only way to ensure getting a timely refund.

Can I get help claiming my $1200 stimulus check?

Our tax preparers can help you claim your stimulus check even if you don’t need to file a tax return. If you have not filed your 2018 or 2019 tax return, filing your 2019 return is the fastest way to receive your $1,200+ economic impact payment (stimulus check) from the IRS. Use our free online tax prep services to file your tax return and expedite your stimulus payment. Funds will be directly deposited into your bank account if the IRS has your account information. In most other cases a paper check will be mailed. If you do not need to file a tax return we can help you fill out the form needed to update your address or banking information.

How do I know if I’m eligible for a stimulus check (Economic Impact Payment)?

  • U.S. citizen tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment of $1200.
  • For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds.
  • There is also an additional payment of up to $500 for each eligible child.
  • Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.
  • The primary taxpayer and spouse must both have a Social Security Number to get a stimulus check according to requirements in the federal CARES Act. Couples who file jointly where one has an SSN and one has an ITIN will not be able to claim any stimulus payments.

I didn’t need to file a return in 2018 or 2019 because I receive Social Security, disability (SSDI), VA benefits, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). How can I claim my stimulus check?

Most eligible U.S. taxpayers will automatically receive their Economic Impact Payments including:

  • Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), survivor benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Recipients of Veterans Affairs benefits
  • Individuals who receive Railroad Retirement benefits

NOTE: VA and SSI recipients with eligible children need to act by May 5 to quickly add money to their automatic Economic Impact Payment. VA and SSI recipients who have a qualifying child and didn’t file a 2018 or 2019 tax return have a limited window to register to have $500 per eligible child added automatically to their soon-to-be-received $1,200 Economic Impact Payment. Visit the special Non-Filers tool on IRS.gov by May 5 to help put all of your eligible stimulus into a single payment. Our IRS-certified tax preparers can help navigate this process.

Will you reopen your in-person tax prep before the July 15 deadline? 

We hope to reopen our Prosper Centers before July 15 to provide in-person tax prep services, but we have not yet decided how or when we can reopen. Ensuring the safety of all clients, volunteers, and staff is our highest priority. When we do reopen, it will likely be on a limited, appointment-only basis in compliance with social distancing measures.

Click here for additional information from the IRS about Economic Impact Payments

Click here for more information from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about Economic Impact Payments

COVID 19 UPDATE: To protect the health of our residents and on site staff, we are need of several critical items!

April 1, 2020 | Posted in In the News | Keywords: , ,

Right now, Foundation Communities needs:

  •  – Handmade mask
  •  – Thermometers
  •  – Gloves
  •  – Clorox wipes
  •  – Hand sanitizer
  •  – Fingertip Pulse Oximeters

Please email: Kristen.Graben@foundcom.org for delivery options.

Foundation Communities Maintains and Modifies Essential Operations and Support Services in Response to COVID-19

March 13, 2020 | Posted in In the News |

Foundation Communities is maintaining essential operations and support services with modifications, in an effort to reduce the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“The health and well-being of our residents, clients, employees, and volunteers is important to us at Foundation Communities. In an effort to reduce the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community we are following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to practice social distancing and limiting gatherings in public places,” says Aaron DeLaO, Director of Health Initiatives.

Children’s Home Initiative will continue to receive applications. Email childrenshomeinitiative@foundcom.org.

Learning Centers will follow AISD closures but will provide tools to enable students to continue learning from home.

Prosper Centers will continue to prepare tax returns using a drop-off service model.

Food pantries will remain available to residents at their normal times, with modified procedures. Please email health@foundcom.org with more questions.

The College Hub will remain open by phone only. Click here to schedule a phone appointment or email collegehub@foundcom.org.

The Health Coverage program will remain open by phone only. Students can call (512) 381-4520 to schedule a phone appointment.

Out of an abundance of caution, these closures and modified operations will remain in effect until further notice and other programs may be limited or cancelled to help keep residents and clients safe in response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Check here for frequent updates as the situation continues to change.

Foundation Communities Maintiene y Modifica Operaciones Esenciales y Servicios de Apoyo en Reacción al COVID-19

March 13, 2020 | Posted in In the News |

En reacción al nuevo coronavirus (COVID-19), Foundation Communities está manteniendo nuestros operaciones esenciales y servicios de apoyo, con modificaciones.

“La salud y el bienestar de nuestros residentes, clientes, empleados y voluntarios son importantes para nosotros en Foundation Communities. En un esfuerzo a reducir la propagación del nuevo coronavirus (COVID-19) en nuestra comunidad, estamos siguiendo las recomendaciones de los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) y la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) para practicar el distanciamiento social y limitar las reuniones en áreas públicas,” dice Aaron DeLaO, Director de Iniciativas de Salud.

Puede enviar las solicitudes para Children’s Home Initiative a childrenshomeinitiative@foundcom.org.

Los Learning Centers sigue los cierres de AISD, pero vamos a dar recursos para que los estudiantes pueden continuar sus educación en sus propias casas.

Los Prosper Centers continuará preparando declaraciones de impuestos, pero solo aceptará los documents dejado en sitio.

Las despensas de comida en sitios residenciales permanecerá disponible a los residentes al tiempo normal, pero con procedimientos modificados. Puede enviar las preguntas a health@foundcom.org.

La College Hub continuará aceptar las citas por teléfono. Haz clic aquí para obtener cita por teléfono o puede enviar las preguntas a collegehub@foundcom.org.

La programa de seguro de salud continuará aceptar las citas por teléfono. Llama a (512) 381-4520 para obtener una cita por teléfono.

Por precaución, estos cierres y operaciones modificadas permanecerán en efecto hasta próximo aviso y otros programas pueden ser limitados o cancelados para ayudar a mantener la salud y seguridad a nuestros residentes y clientes en respuesta al Nuevo Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Consulte aquí las actualizaciones frecuentes a medida que la situación cambia.

Stand Up and Be Counted

March 10, 2020 | Posted in Get Involved, Volunteer, In the News | Keywords: ,

Did you know that the census happens once every 10 years, is required by law to complete and that your responses will shape our community’s future?

Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to support medical assistance and healthcare programs, housing assistance, supplemental food and nutrition programs, highway planning and construction, education programs and more.

Who is counted? EVERYONE! Your answers to the survey are safe and everyone should be counted regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

Foundation Communities has a team of trained volunteers working to make sure our residents and tax program clients understand the impact and importance of the census and are counted.

For more information, contact Nikki.Krueger@foundcom.org.

FC Doubles Solar Capacity in Four Years

September 25, 2019 | Posted in Green Building, Affordable Housing, Housing | Keywords: , , ,

Kermit the Frog may have said it best: “It’s not easy being green.” Building green may have its challenges, but Foundation Communities has continued to find ways to build beautiful, affordable housing for residents in need, while allowing us to continue to let our green-side shine through.

We have made great strides in our green building initiatives, said Katelynn Essig, Foundation Communities’ sustainability manager. Since 2014, we have more than doubled our solar capacity and now have nearly 1.1 Megawatts installed across 14 properties.

“We have saved enough greenhouse gas emissions, it’s like removing 4,300 cars from the road for one year!” Essig said. “We beat our goal to reach 1 Megawatt of installed solar 2 years early and are excited to see what unfolds as we continue to build beautiful, green, affordable housing.”

With our newest community, The Jordan at Mueller, opening later in 2019 and Waterloo Terrace, now under construction along MoPac Expressway near The Domain, we will continue to add to our green building and solar energy initiatives.

Read more about our green values.

Teacher Brings Love, Respect to the Classroom

July 29, 2019 | Posted in Education | Keywords: , , , ,

Silvia Villacorta was teaching at a Montessori school in Costa Rica when she got the call. The principal at St. Elmo Elementary School invited her to create an early-education program to help youngsters’ years before they step into an elementary school.

The program is a partnership between AISD and Foundation Communities, and beacause of its success will expand during the 2019-20 school year to two additional classrooms, two at Sierra Vista and one at Vintage Creek, Silvia said.

With 22 years of teaching experience, a master’s degree in human rights and experience founding educational programs in Spain, Silvia was excited to build a program with strong community involvement.

“It has been a nurturing, sweet place to be. We talk a lot about love and respect,” Silvia said of the Pre-K-3 program.

Her background in instructional design and Montessori education helped her create an environment where children work independently, build social, emotional learning skills and where families engage in their children’s’ educational growth.

A place where kids love to learn.

The love and respect the program fosters is evident. Parents don’t drop off their children and leave, they are invited to stay and eat breakfast with them, giving Silvia an opportunity to talk with them and build bonds.

“Children are encouraged to go around the classroom and freely choose what they want to do. The learning experiences are based on self-motivation… All of the materials are created for their developmental levels and are easily accessible,” she said.

“Our program is so full of joy because as educators, we love our job,” Silvia said. “I will summarize it in a quote from my beloved and admired educator, Dr. Maria Montessori, ‘I didn’t come here to teach you, I came here to love you. … Love will teach you.’ Each child that crosses our door gets real, authentic love. And, love teaches.”

 

Grant Funds to Benefit Community Tax Centers

June 26, 2019 | Posted in Tax Services, Financial Stability, Volunteer |

Since 2016, Terri Pensock has volunteered at our Community Tax Centers and as a Financial Coach. On behalf of Foundation Communities, she applied for and received a $2,000 grant from the IBM Community Grant Program. The grant funds will be used to purchase new computer equipment for use at our Community Tax Centers.

IBM provides community grants to organizations where IBM employees and retirees volunteer.  To be eligible to apply for funds, volunteers must have at least 40 service hours.

This year, more than 600 volunteers at our Community Tax Centers completed more than 20,000 tax returns resulting in $35.4 million in refunds for our clients. A huge thank you to Terri and  IBM for providing grants for community programs.

Read our Community Tax Centers End of Season Tax Report.

Learn how to Get Involved with Foundation Communities.

A Second Chance to Serve

May 20, 2019 | Posted in Housing, Health | Keywords: , , , ,

The day before his 58th birthday, Veteran Tvan Bryant moved into his new home at Bluebonnet Studios. To him it was a gift from God.

“Life feels different now that I have a roof over my head,” he said. “I have my own place. My own bed, my own kitchen. I’m never hungry anymore.”

Tvan has not always been so lucky. During his life, there have been several times when he didn’t have a place to call home. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon for many veterans living in Austin. The VA directed Tvan to Foundation Communities, where his life turned around.

Bluebonnet Studios is one of our six communities solely for single adults. Free wraparound support services are available on site to help residents like Tvan navigate life and be successful.

During high school, he was an average student who was great at sports. When given the choice to join the military or attend college on sports scholarships, he chose to enlist in the U.S. Army. Through his travels he met and married an “Army brat,” and, they had a daughter. But, after five years, the marriage ended. This was a hard blow for Tvan.

He moved back to Texas seeking a fresh start, but depression led him to drugs, which sadly led him to prison. Tvan lost contact with his daughter and his family.

After he was released, he knew he had to make drastic changes. Today, he is a self-professed addict and alcoholic in recovery for many years. Every day he works to maintain his sobriety, while also managing PTSD from traumas he’s experienced throughout life.

“I don’t think I would be as successful if I didn’t live here. Besides having a case manager, who works right in my building, we have a nurse who regularly visits Bluebonnet,” Tvan explained. “This makes a huge difference for me – just knowing someone is there to check on me and make sure I’m okay.”

Other health programs available to Tvan are stress management classes and yoga classes.

“You really feel like someone cares about you,” Tvan mused.  “And, that alone is a huge help with my stress and anxiety.”

With all the positive changes Tvan’s made in his life, he didn’t hesitate when Foundation Communities asked him to be Bluebonnet Studios’ Community Engagement Specialist.

“This is a great job!  I get to help my neighbors.”

Tvan sets up for special events, hosts movie nights, works with volunteers and assists with the on-site Food Pantry.

“Foundation Communities has really changed my life, in more ways than I can describe,” Tvan reported. “I honestly had gotten to the point where I didn’t want to even be around people. I was just too uncomfortable. But, with my new job, I have to communicate, to connect with the other residents. I get to be of service again. And, I can do it, because I have the support I need right here where I live. I feel healthy and very content. I know I’m a blessed man.”

 

5th Annual Running Buddies Fitness Camino Celebrates Healthy Kids

April 29, 2019 | Posted in Health | Keywords: , , ,

Waiting for the horn to sound with new running shoes on their feet and numbers on their shirts, a group of about 25 kids were ready to run what was for most their first 5k road race. Some were laughing and smiling, while others had a look of serious determination as they set off to complete the 3.1 miles.

Foundation Communities held its 5th Annual Fitness Camino Saturday morning at its Sierra Vista Apartments. The Running Buddies Fitness Camino 5K was started in 2013 as a way to encourage participation in fitness activities and promote overall well-being. Through the Running Buddies program children in third through fifth grades trained for six-weeks with coaches and mentors who supported their fitness goals.

For the last two years, David Chandler, a running coach with 17 years of experience mostly at the college level, has coached Running Buddies.

“This is the grassroots,” he said. “The real beginning – a key point in their lives and some of these kids really need a chance to be part of something.”

Lucero Gomez has participated in the Running Buddies program for two years. A 10-year-old who is in the 4th grade at St. Elmo Elementary School, Lucero said she has enjoyed training for the race.

“What I like about training is it can help me run faster than I used to,” she said. “The race is important because I get to see my progress over the weeks.”

Through a grant from The Amerigroup Foundation, healthy food and snacks are incorporated into the Running Buddies program, which helps the children learn to make more nutritious choices.

The program has helped Lucero feel healthier and when she’s participating in running buddies, she eats healthier, goes to bed earlier and drinks more water, he mother Marta Gomez said. Her mother has seen a positive change in her since she started Running Buddies this year and she even appears to be leaner.

“At Foundation Communities, we are aware of the lifelong health impacts resulting from childhood obesity, and are working tirelessly to implement rigorous programming aimed at combating obesity as well as chronic disease throughout our communities,” said Aaron DeLaO, Foundation Communities Director of Health Initiatives. Since its inception, the Running Buddies/Fitness Camino 5K has been an impactful addition to Foundation Communities’ fitness and nutrition programming. With continued support we look forward to bringing Running Buddies and 5k races to even more properties and continuing to expand fitness opportunities for all of our residents and their families.”

Children who participate receive free training shoes, water bottles, and a T-shirt. The road race replicates an adult 5k and the children wear numbered bibs and they receive a medal at the finish line. Robert Graves, 12, was the first to cross the finish in a time of 27:27. And, it was also his birthday.

Lucero’s parents were surprised when she said she wanted to participate in Running Buddies, her mother said. She is extremely proud of her daughter and said she excels at everything she does, even encouraging the family to try new activities.

“It’s like she found a calling for herself,” she said. “I thought it would just be a race, but it became therapeutic for Lucero. She has a love of running now, it’s not just a hobby.”

The whole family is physically active, but Lucero is the only runner. She is inspiring her three younger siblings, Estrella, 8, Abrahan, 6 and Eden, 4.

“Her sister Estrella is upset she can’t do running buddies yet, because she knows she can do it,” Marta Gomez said. Next year her little sister will be old enough to participate.

Lucero received the Running Buddies Leadership Role Model Award this year because she is so inspiring to others, said Cynthia Gonzalez, the Learning Center Coordinator at Sierra Vista.