Church's tax preparation help saved Americans $7 million in 2011

.- Americans in need saved $7.4 million through the free tax preparation assistance offered by Catholic Charities during 2011, according to new figures released by the national organization.

Father Larry Snyder, Catholic Charities USA's president and CEO, said the figures showed the need for a “holistic approach to providing programs and services to those in need,” as Catholic Charities seeks to do through its financial literacy programs and tax preparation aid.

A “single point of access” to such services, Fr. Snyder indicated, could help a greater number of needy U.S. residents achieve financial security.

Figures obtained by Catholic Charities, through its January 2012 survey of member organizations, suggest that its financial services may be underutilized. Although the 44 surveyed agencies serve 3.5 million clients annually, fewer than 1 percent of them sought financial training or tax preparation help.

In its announcement of the survey results, Catholic Charities USA noted that a lack of awareness surrounding these financial services – offered by a majority of the surveyed affiliates – “continues to be a barrier in communities throughout the country.”

In other areas, however, demand for the Church's charitable assistance exceeds supply. All of the 44 agencies surveyed said they had to turn away individuals, or place them on a waiting list, during the last quarter of 2011, especially in cases involving financial emergencies or a need for utilities.

But even more basic needs, Catholic Charities said, are not always met – as in the case of three agencies forced to turn away 1,750 or more people who sought food between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011.

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