augusta free press news

United Way of Greater Augusta CEO leads lobby effort on Capitol Hill

cynthiapritchardCynthia Pritchard, the CEO of United Way of Greater Augusta, led representatives from Virginia’s United Way organizations in Washington, D.C., on May 14 to lobby local members of Congress to help working families who may be struggling to make ends meet in the Shenandoah Valley.

Pritchard met with the office of Representative Robert Goodlatte (R-Va 6th) and offices of Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) as part of United Way’s larger effort to improve financial stability. Ms. Pritchard was advocating for tax reforms that benefit working families. One such program pushed by the United Way is the Community Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), which funds volunteers to become IRS-certified tax preparers and help low-wage earners file tax returns for free. Most families benefiting from VITA earn less than $40,000 per year, and include people with disabilities, limited English speakers, and the elderly. Last year, tens of thousands of VITA volunteers working at nearly 8,000 locations prepared more than 1.7 million tax returns nationwide. Returns filed by VITA programs brought more than $2.4 billion back in refunds for low-wage taxpayers.

The United Way coalition from Virginia led by Ms. Pritchard also advocated for expanding incentives for charitable giving in the U.S. Tax code, strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit which work to help low-income families keep more of what they earn and also reduce the financial cost of raising children. Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides health coverage to nearly 8 million children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but who can’t afford private coverage.