Originally published in the Florida Times-Union.
Reginald “Reggie” James has worked as a security guard at Riverplace Tower for five years now. He’s a hardworking family man who says his kids come first.
“My income ensures that I can meet the basic needs for me and my 2- and 5-year-old sons,” James said. “Every bit counts.”
In 2012 around tax season, James had a conversation with Rebecca Thompson, a United Way RealSense employee who recruits volunteers and helps prepare taxes free. They’d gotten to know each other from working in the same building, and after hearing some of James’ financial needs, Thompson encouraged him to take advantage of RealSense’s yearly free tax preparation.
James took Thompson’s advice, and after bringing in his forms and prior tax information, he was glad he did.
James had used franchises and local preparers in the past, shelling out over $300 annually to get his taxes done.
As someone on a fixed income and responsible for the well-being of two boys, James needed to know that he was getting quality services, but Thompson found out that wasn’t the case.
“We discovered that his prior year taxes had been filed erroneously and that he was paying money he didn’t actually owe,” Thompson said.
“We helped Reggie file an amended return, eliminate the money owed and saved him hundreds of dollars in preparation fees.”
Many members of the community across Northeast Florida find themselves in a similar situation to James, relying on what income they have to take care of their family.
“For me, an extra $300 was my utility and insurance bills,” James said. “For my family, it was one less worry and one step closer to feeling financially stable.”
With United Way’s RealSense, James no longer has to worry about whether his taxes are going to be done properly or where the money is going to come from to get them prepared.
Instead, he can focus on taking care of what matters, and knowing that someone has his family’s best interest in mind when it comes to seeking greater financial stability.