January 18, 2024

United Way of Pennsylvania

United Way Helps Pennsylvanians with Tax Filing

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), helps households with $60,000 or less (depending on the program), file your taxes for free. To check if you are eligible, contact your local your local VITA site, to schedule an appointment. 211 also provides assistance with VITA scheduling's, depending on the county. If you are interested in learning if 211 can be of assistance, call 211 on your cellular device or click on the "Schedule Online" budget below.

MyFreeTaxes, a self-serving website, helps file taxes for free with no income limit. The platform guides you through the process to ensure you get your maximum refund. Most filers complete their taxes in under one hour and save an average of $200 in fees. It is also free for simple returns, including Schedule C for self-employed people. 

Find a VITA Site

Legislation Introduced To Update the Federal Poverty Level

The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) calculation has not been updated in 60 years, leaving many Americans in need without benefits due to stringent income qualifications. On December 6th, 2023, legislation was introduced by Congressman Kevin Mullin (CA-15), proposing a much-needed modernization to the way the FPL is calculated.

The Poverty Line Act of 2023 (H.R. 6639) would better reflect what working families actually spend on necessary goods and services including housing, childcare, and healthcare. The updates would additionally adjust FPL calculations by region to account for differences in basic need costs, making millions more Americans eligible for vital assistance programs.

Additionally, the Poverty Line Act would:

  • Prevent any individual from losing eligibility for a program based on the new calculation methodology if they were eligible under the old one;
  • Ensure the poverty line is no lower than it is today anywhere in the country;
  • Require the Office of Management and Budget to report to Congress on how federal law should be updated to reflect the new calculation where, for example, program eligibility is based on a percentage of the old poverty line; and
  • Ensure that the new methodology is reviewed at least once every four years to determine whether it is still reflective of what households need to meet their basic needs and to identify additional changes needed in the future.

The Poverty Line Act is supported by United Way Worldwide and several other non-profit organizations. President of United Way Worldwide, Angela Williams, calls the Act, “necessary legislation that will help our communities thrive.” Williams adds, “This bill helps to ensure people, especially working families who are struggling, have access to critical programs that provide the necessary short- and long-term support and stability they need.”

Helpful Resources:

United Way Policy Priorities for Pennsylvania in 2024

United Way of Pennsylvania is delighted to share our 2024 Public Policy Roadmap, “Creating Pathways to Financial Stability & Equitable Communities”. The Policy Roadmap emphasizes United Way of Pennsylvania’s public policy priorities for 2024, which include:

  • Increased funding for PA 211.
  • Enactment of a State Earned Income Tax Credit of at least 25% of the federal tax credit.
  • Expansion and enhancement of the federal EITC to further support working families and reduce poverty.
  • Enhanced investment in high-quality early childhood education and out of school activities that support the growth and development of our earliest learners.
  • Addressing benefits cliffs, which impede the path to financial stability as families and individuals make life-changing financial and professional decisions.
  • Continued commitment to financial stability and uplifting ALICE households through support of policies and programs that address the cost and inaccessibility of basic essentials.

To review United Way of Pennsylvania’s 2024 Public Policy Roadmap: Creating Pathways to Financial Stability & Equitable Communities, please click below

24-25 Public Policy Priorities
24-25 Public Policy Priorities Summary

Call-to-Action: Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

Despite the adoption of two continuing funding resolutions, Congress has yet to reauthorize funding for the ACP, which provides subsidies for low-income families to access low-cost, reliable internet. On Monday, January 8, 2024, the Federal Communications Commission unveiled a plan to phase out the ACP in April of this year when the $14.2 billion, allocated by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, is depleted.

Sign and share United Way’s to encourage Congress to ensure the Affordable Connectivity Program can continue providing vital internet services to Americans through the remainder of 2024 and well into the future. 

Support the ACP

Resilient PA-

Lunch Hours Are Back!

In collaboration with Collectively Rooted, we are happy to share the upcoming speaker for the the monthly Lunch Hour webinar. This live conversation will feature Dr. Aimie Apigian, MD MS MPH founder and CEO of Trauma Healing Accelerated.

Dr. Apigian brings years of experience as a board certified physician, with a background in biochemistry, public health, addiction medicine, and trauma therapy. She brings a wealth of experience as a former foster parent and adoptive parent to the area of trauma informed care. Her mission is to bridge all these areas into what she calls the Biology of Trauma and applying this lens to every area of medicine and the mental health educational system.

Join Dr. Apigian as she discuses the Biology of Trauma and how we can better understand how this lens can change the way we address the role of trauma in our lives.

These events are free to attend for Pennsylvania residents. Recordings will be available for ResilientPA.org members. Anyone can be a member of ResilientPA.org at no cost to access this and other amazing resources!

Up Next in February!

February Lunch Hour

Featuring Dr. Aimie Apigian, MD MS MPH

February 8th, 12:00pm

Register Here
Access Resilient PA Website

FAFSA Information

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid has finally begun accepting applications after a much-anticipated update to the form which aims to streamline the filing process.

Don't leave money for college on the table, click the link below to file today!

FAFSA Application

Support Your Community

Will you help PA communities improve their financial stability, health, and education? Choose to support your local United Way, efforts to improve life for people who work and struggle to survive (ALICE), or our program to connect people to the help they need (PA 211.) Give, advocate, or volunteer today.

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Support ALICE
Support 211
United Way of Pennsylvania
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