Granite United Way VITA Client Wins $25,000 Sweepstakes!
Earlier this year when Lilliana Roman, of Manchester, was filing her taxes through Granite United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program and decided to split her refund into a savings account, she had no idea she’d receive a call in just a few months to inform her that the simple decision to split her refund would result in a sweepstakes win of $25,000.
The VITA Program assisted families and individuals with low-to-moderate incomes.@ Trained volunteer tax preparers helped complete and electronically file returns for free while also explaining any special credits and deductions available and how to claim them including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).A@ Clients have the ability to split their refund, selecting to put a portion in to a checking account and a portion in to a savings account or savings bond.
"Lilliana has been going to Granite United Way’s Manchester VITA site located at Workplace Success for the last four years to have her tax return completed." said Patrick Tufts, President and CEO of Granite United Way. "When Lilliana met with her tax volunteer this year they discussed the split return and she decided to put some of her refund into her savings. This made her eligible for the ‘Save Your Refund’ sweepstakes offered by the Doorway to Dream Fund. We were thrilled to learn that one of our VITA clients had in fact won this national prize!"
The "Save Your Refund Sweepstakes" was offered through the non-profit organization Doorway to Dream Fund in an effort to encourage individuals to take advantage of the opportunity to save a portion of their return. D2D’s past work on prize-linked savings has shown that the opportunity to win a prize – even a prize of modest value – can energize and motivate people to save. They hosted weekly drawings, providing 40 winners with $250 across the United States, anyone saving a minimum of $50 in a savings account or purchasing a savings bond were eligible to enter the sweepstakes. The $25,000 sweepstakes was drawn after the tax season and the Manchester resident recently received the news that she had won the cash prize.
All tax filers over age 18 who are due a federal tax refund and split $50 or more of their federal tax refund into a qualified savings product using IRS Form 8888 were eligible to enter the sweepstakes. Qualified savings products include: U.S. Savings Bond, Savings Account, Certificate of Deposit, IRA, TreasuryDirect, or a Prepaid Card. More than 750,000 individuals entered the sweepstakes.
VITA Volunteers shared the news of this sweepstakes with their clients who chose to split their refund and utilize the Form 8888. The VITA program is offered statewide throughout New Hampshire in collaboration with a generous $75,000 grant from Citizens Bank Foundation.
"This was the first year I decided to split my return," said Roman, a single mother of three young children, who tearfully accepted the $25,000 prize on Monday, June 3, 2013 at City Hall in Manchester. "Since I started going to the VITA site for my taxes I’ve been receiving better refunds and learning about ways I can save part of my return. I am so grateful for the volunteers at the VITA site who have helped me each year."
Cary Gladstone, Director of Asset Building for Granite United Way, was one of the reviewers who checked Lilliana’s return for quality at the Manchester VITA site.
"We were thrilled to learn that someone who was already thinking about saving won such a wonderful prize!" said Gladstone.
When presented with the check by the Doorway to Dreams Fund representative Preeti Mehta, everyone asked "What will you do with the winnings?"
Roman has plans for her family – "I would really like to use a significant portion of this for a down payment on a home," she replied surrounded by her closest friends.
"We wish Lilliana Roman and her family the best as she works towards the goal of purchasing a home," said Gladstone. "It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person!"
In addition to the Citizens Bank Foundation support, the VITA Program is supported by the IRS and the CA$H Coalition of New Hampshire.