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President Donald Trump Won't Help the Working Class by Attacking the CFPB

By Jeremie Greer on 01/26/2017 @ 12:00 PM

Tags: Federal Policy, News, Featured Stories

Editor's Note: This article was originally published at U.S. News on January 25, 2017.

Donald Trump has just been sworn in as our next president and already newly emboldened congressional Republicans are planning assaults on an agency that exists to help all consumers, regardless of party affiliation. And they’re doing so even though Trump ran on a platform of protecting working-class Americans.

The agency is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), part of the Dodd-Frank reform package enacted by Congress to rein in the excesses of the banking and finance industry in the wake of the Great Recession. The CFPB was created with the recognition that products like mortgages, credit cards and student loans involve some of the most important aspects of people's lives. It's the first and only federal agency dedicated to protecting consumers in the financial marketplace.

In the six short years since its formation, the CFPB has collected and sent back to consumers $12 billion (that's billion with a "b") from financial service companies that have preyed upon U.S. consumers. It now is finalizing a "payday rule" that finally would bring basic protections to an industry that costs Americans more than $8 billion annually in interest fees.

And the response from Congress? Two Republican senators have called on Trump to fire the CFPB's director, Richard Cordray. The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee has introduced a bill that would gut much of the bureau's regulatory authority and replace the office of director with a five-member commission subject to congressional oversight and appropriations. And Trump's own transition team now is promising to dismantle the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, suggesting it's produced nothing but "bureaucratic red tape and Washington mandates."

So what type of red tape and mandates are we talking about?

Over and beyond the $12 billion returned to consumers through enforcement actions, the CFPB has introduced strong new mortgage disclosure forms that have improved the market and gone a long way to rectify the predatory lending practices that were rampant before the financial crisis. The agency's consumer complaint database has given Americans a vehicle for getting attention and help for problems with financial institutions. And the bureau has conducted research and outreach to millions of people so they better understand their finances and can access good financial products.

Moreover, the CFPB has or will soon introduce strong new rules in several markets beyond the payday rule to improve fairness and transparency for consumers, including in the areas of prepaid cards, overdraft offerings and arbitration requirements. Congressional critics say the rules and enforcement actions of the CFPB are holding back lending and the economy in general, but the evidence isn't there to support that. Lending in mortgages and other financial products is approaching pre-crisis levels, unemployment is under 5 percent and the stock market is approaching all-time highs.

So what's the real fallout if Trump goes along with the congressional assault?

Replacing the director with a commission would bog down the agency's work and mire it in politics, similar to what's happened at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Moving the funding of the CFPB from the Federal Reserve System to Congress would not only add to the deficit, but would allow Congress to stymie the work of the bureau by starving it of funding. Congress has done the same to the SEC and the Internal Revenue Service, greatly reducing their effectiveness.

Families would lose protections from predatory products that could leave them mired in debt and unable to pay for basic living expenses, let alone save or build wealth to get ahead. And if arbitration rules were overturned or watered down, consumers would have no ability to hold financial institutions accountable for predatory practices and would never be able to have their day in court.

Last fall, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew testified to Congress that the law and associated regulations absolutely had made the financial industry safer and that it made no sense to roll back those protections. Even the financiers are urging caution; Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein says it might be appropriate to review some parts of Dodd-Frank, but he wouldn't "want to repeal in toto."

A partisan backlash against federal regulation is not what we need right now, particularly when an agency is doing the job it was chartered to do. The CFPB should remain independent and encouraged to continue its work on behalf of all consumers.

Three Cabinet Nominees Have a Chance to Show Their Commitment to Fair Housing. Will They?

By Doug Ryan on 01/12/2017 @ 11:00 AM

Tags: Housing and Homeownership, Featured Stories

Editor's Note: This story was originally published on The Hill on January 10, 2017.

Photo credit: Getty Images

There is one issue that binds together three of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, and it should be front and center during their confirmation hearings starting this week. The issue is fair housing, and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Justice and Treasury all play important roles.

In fact, it isn’t an exaggeration to suggest that Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Steve Mnuchin could soon collectively determine the future of homeownership in America.

Homeownership rates are hovering around their lowest point in five decades, and the rates for black and Latino households are about 20 percentage points lower than the national rate. Black homeowners, even in wealthy neighborhoods, still don’t see the same kind of return on their investment as white homeowners.

The question now is whether the new administration will commit to fair housing for all the nation’s homeowners.

Since Trump nominated Carson to be HUD secretary, commentators have pointed out his lack of enthusiasm for the 2015 “affirmatively furthering” fair housing rule. This view makes him a troubling choice to head one of the principal agencies tasked with enforcing fair housing law.

Civil rights leaders have lauded the rule, which requires states and localities to assess and work to root out patterns of residential segregation in their communities. It’s viewed as an important step to dismantle this country’s legacy of racial discrimination and to build on the progress we’ve made since the Civil Rights era.

Apparently, Carson disagrees.

In a 2015 Washington Times op-ed, the retired neurosurgeon wrote that the rule goes too far, calling the integration effort “social engineering.” Carson recognizes that much earlier government policies, such as redlining, encouraged residential segregation, even framing these as “attempts at social engineering.” But he stops short of supporting government policies designed to reverse this segregation. This contradictory view casts doubt on Carson’s willingness to enforce HUD’s legal obligation to protect the housing rights of all Americans.

Upholding fair housing is not just the responsibility of HUD, however. The Department of Justice also has a role in bringing suit against individuals, housing providers, creditors and municipalities that discriminate.

It is far from clear that attorney general nominee Sessions will make fair housing enforcement a priority. Although he has highlighted his civil rights record ahead of his confirmation hearing, former colleagues have raised doubts about his role. Sessions also co-sponsored a bill to prohibit funding for HUD’s enforcement of the “affirmatively furthering” rule. Such a position suggests Sessions has little intention of aggressively pursuing housing discrimination cases.

Fair housing isn’t only about “fair housing.” It’s also about fair lending, especially when it comes to making sure that people of color get a fair chance to become homeowners and build wealth.

For decades, the Federal Housing Administration’s “redlining” practices locked communities of color out of homeownership opportunities by denying them access to affordable mortgage credit. But while blatant mortgage discrimination was outlawed by the Fair Housing Act in 1968, people of color continue to face barriers in accessing credit. In the years leading up to the most recent housing crisis, for example, many black and Latino homebuyers were targeted by “reverse redlining” schemes in which banks steered borrowers of color to subprime and higher-cost loans — even if they qualified for conventional mortgage financing.

These discriminatory lending practices saddled homeowners with less safe, more expensive loans, and contributed to the high foreclosure rates in communities of color. In the wake of the foreclosure crisis, a number of major financial institutions entered into settlements with the Justice Department after investigations revealed mortgage discrimination or reverse redlining practices. Sessions hasn’t yet said whether he intends to aggressively pursue lenders who prevent borrowers of color from accessing the credit for which they qualify.

Even more troubling, Treasury nominee Mnuchin’s former bank has been credibly tied to discriminatory lending and foreclosure practices. Homebuyers of color also could face further hurdles in accessing mortgage credit if administration and congressional leaders achieve their housing finance reform agenda for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Speaker Paul Ryan wants to dismantle them entirely, while Mnunchin says he hopes to “privatize” the two government-sponsored enterprises. If the housing finance system is transformed without codifying affordable housing obligations, access to affordable home loans will be sharply curtailed.

The public records and statements of the three nominees raise serious concerns about the new administration’s commitment to a housing market that it fair to all Americans. Senators should use the upcoming confirmation hearings to pointedly ask each of them if they’re committed to upholding fair housing and accessible financing. Their answers should guide confirmation votes.

CFED’s Greer Recognized as One of Top Nonprofit Leaders Under 40

By Danielle Fox on 11/17/2016 @ 02:00 PM

Tags: News, Featured Stories

CFED is proud to announce Jeremie Greer, Vice President of Policy and Research, has been named by Independent Sector as a 2016-2017 American Express NGen Fellow! Over the course of a year, the accomplished and innovative fellows in the cohort will collaborate with other talented leaders age 40 and under, interact with established mentors and contribute to Independent Sector's work on nonprofit impact and leadership.

Within CFED, Jeremie oversees the Policy & Research arm of the organization, which includes our state, federal and local policy efforts; our applied research efforts and our Racial Wealth Divide Initiative, which launched in 2015. Previously, Jeremie served as CFED’s Director of Government Affairs.

Prior to CFED, he was a Senior Policy Officer at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, where he led policy advocacy on an array of federal issues including public housing, workforce development, asset building, green development, community service, smart growth, transportation and community safety. Jeremie also spent time at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, where he provided non-partisan and fact-based federal policy analysis to the United States Congress in the areas of housing, community development, workforce, education, human services and environmental protection.

He began his career providing capacity building and technical support to small community-based organizations in DC. Jeremie has a Bachelor’s of Social Work from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, and a Master’s of Public Policy from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.

We are exceptionally proud of the work Jeremie has accomplished to earn this fellowship and look forward to the progress he will make in the cohort over the next year!

To learn more about the 2016-2017 American Express NGen Fellows and to see the entirety of the cohort, click here.

One Thing That I Know for Sure

By Andrea Levere on 11/10/2016 @ 08:00 AM

Tags: News, Featured Stories

Dear Colleagues,

We awoke on Wednesday to a new world with political realities that many of us did not expect.

The election underscores that the unconscionable levels of economic and racial wealth inequality in our nation have led to tremendous uncertainty. Millions of families have been suffering for far too long and our policies have failed to address their concerns.

It is an anxious moment for us all. We don’t know what the future will hold for our loved ones, our neighbors and our communities.

That said, there is one thing that I know for sure and it is that our work - to reduce wealth inequality and enable all families to achieve financial security - is more vital than ever.

In the days and months ahead, it is up to us to broadly share our vision, best practices and agenda to build an opportunity economy - an economy that work for everyone, especially for children and families of color. And while our tactics may change, let us affirm that our collective vision will not.

And let us rely on each other. As we saw at the 2016 Assets Learning Conference, our community is a tremendous source of strength. Please reach out to each other and any of us at CFED as we advance our critical work in a shifting political world.

Together, we can inform and learn from each other. Together, we can speak out and marshal all the resources we need to protect the gains we have made to date.

Together, we can remain steadfastly committed to ensuring that all U.S. families have the skills, knowledge, access and protections they need to realize their financial dreams.

Thank you for the work you do every day!

All my best,


The Color of Patrimonial Capitalism

By Dedrick Asante-Muhammad and Chuck Collins, Guest Contributor on 09/07/2016 @ 02:00 PM

Tags: Racial Wealth Divide, Local Policy, Federal Policy, Data and Research, Featured Stories

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

Without a course correction, French economist Thomas Piketty warned, we are hurtling toward a grotesquely unequal future. A future governed by a hereditary aristocracy composed of the progeny of today’s billionaires.

In his assessment, however, Piketty overlooked the “peculiar institution” of our nation’s original sin. The color of what Piketty calls our “patrimonial capitalism” will be almost exclusively white.

Progress in race relations has done little to narrow the racial wealth divide. If average black wealth grows at the same rate it has over the last 30 years, it will take another 228 years before it equals the amount of wealth currently possessed by white households.

If we stay on our current trajectory of unequal wealth growth, the wealth divide between white families and black and Latino families will double to about $1 million by 2043, the same year when households of color are projected to account for half of the U.S. population.

The legacy of discrimination in asset-building programs, which help people purchase homes, save for college or increase retirement savings, goes back generations and has a direct impact on the net worth of today’s families. Assets are a more durable measure of inequality than income, providing a buffer against economic downturns, both personal and societal.

Wealth plays an essential role in establishing financial security and opportunity for future generations. The average retirement savings for black and Latino households is $19,049 and $12,229, respectively, compared to $130,472 for White households.

Homeownership still stands as the most significant asset for low- and middle-income families. In the years after World War II, as the G.I. Bill propelled millions of white households into homeownership, discrimination in mortgage lending left most people of color behind.

The result today is an enormous gap in homeownership. More than 70 percent of white households own their home compared to less than half of black and Latino families.

The driving causes that both compound wealth inequality and worsen the racial wealth divide are overlapping but different. Policy preferences that favor asset owners over wage earners, such as low capital gains taxes and most global trade agreements, have supercharged the share of wealth flowing to the top one percent. The Forbes 400, a list exclusively of billionaires, now possesses a stunning $2.34 trillion — more wealth than the entire black population and one-third of the Latino population combined or a total of over 60 million people.

Policy inaction to reduce inequality, such as allowing the minimum wage to lag and diminished investment in higher education, undermine workers of all colors. Yet popular equalizing initiatives, such as raising the minimum wage or expanding college access, will not aid black and Latino workers in the same way it does for Whites. Homes in black and Latino neighborhoods do not appreciate at the same level as homes in predominately white neighborhoods. And the return on investment for black and Latino college graduates is significantly lower than Whites in terms of lifetime earnings.

So what course corrections are needed to reverse generations of racial economic inequality?

For starters, consider public programs aimed at asset-building and homeownership. These well-intentioned policies lack rigorous enforcement against predatory and asset-stripping products and services.

Low-wealth households often must rely on alternative financial services, such as payday loans, prepaid cards and check-cashing. In some cases, these services take away as much as 10 percent of a household’s income. Black and Latino households are more than twice as likely to have to turn to these services, thanks to barriers to traditional banking. We should provide incentives, such as reduced taxation, to banks that provide accessible banking services to those without significant assets.

We also need to make a full-throttle effort to reverse existing upside-down tax incentives. Over $600 billion in tax subsidies each year helps promote homeownership, private retirement funds, and savings and investments. The overwhelming majority of these subsidies flow to affluent and white households. Why not push these subsidies towards people who actually need them?

The racial wealth divide was created and exacerbated by public policies that currently threaten to push our nation towards fundamentally un-American levels of inequality and unequal opportunity. Another future is possible, one where public policy can begin to bridge our nation’s deep divisions, not continue to widen them.

Levere Featured as Expert in One Crisis Away Series

By Kristin Lawton on 03/27/2014 @ 11:30 AM

Tags: Featured Stories

Last month, CFED President Andrea Levere was a featured expert on KERA-TV Dallas’ One Crisis Away, a multi-part series following North Texas families living on the financial edge. Her hour-long segment, in which she discusses the complex ways in which asset poverty affects low- and moderate-income families, airs tonight.

If you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, we hope you’ll tune in tonight at 7 pm CDT. Not in the Metroplex? Watch online!

CFED applauds KERA’s use of public television to tell the story of asset poverty in America. By bringing together experts, curating resources and telling the stories of typical North Texas families, KERA is raising awareness about asset poverty in an unprecedented way, and we’re grateful for their dedication to covering the issues that matter to you the most.

For more on One Crisis Away or other KERA programming, check your local listings.

SF Savers: College is Part of “How to Have a Fun Life” for Barry and His Son Jaray

By Claire Sorrenson, 1:1 Fund on 10/21/2013 @ 01:30 PM

Tags: Children's Savings Accounts, Featured Stories, Matched Savings

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally appeared on the 1:1 Fund blog, which you can read here.

Barry & Jaray Perkins

Jaray Perkins, an energetic kindergartener at Sherman Elementary School, loves riding his bike and doing sports as diverse as martial arts and rock climbing. When it comes to school, “you have to drag him away,” according to father Barry Perkins.

The landscape of education has changed a lot since Barry’s youth. “College is way more expensive than when I went.” In fact, Barry calculates that his son’s preschool cost more per semester than his college undergraduate degree. But, says Barry, “I believe in planning” now for Jaray’s future education.

Barry highlights the importance of setting early expectations for his son. “We talk about your choices as an adult and how you can have a fun life.” A fun life means having the freedom to make choices, which means having a job that allows you that freedom. Says Barry, “we talk about how you have more options” with a college degree. Barry definitely sees college in Jaray’s future. For Barry, it goes beyond surviving in today’s economy: “college is a good place to figure out what you do and don’t like.”

San Francisco Saver Story: Teaching Cole to Save

By Blanche Brown on 08/27/2013 @ 01:00 PM

Tags: Children's Savings Accounts, Matched Savings, Featured Stories

EDITOR'S NOTE: This post originally appeared on the 1:1 Fund blog, which you should check out here.

Lauren Sigurdson is the mother of Kindergarten to College (K2C) Saver, Cole Basowski. The family received the K2C Steady Saver Award, which is given to families that save at least $10 for 6 months in a row. A San Francisco resident for twenty-five years, Lauren lives in the Inner/Outer Sunset neighborhood.

Please tell us about your Kindergarten to College student.

Cole just turned six. He is a special needs child and has a sensory processing disorder. He attends Lakeshore Elementary, which has a great special education program. He is very happy there and just a happy kid in general. He loves taekwondo and is very friendly. We live a block away from the Golden Gate Park. We love to go on the trails together. I am a single parent but have yet to receive any child support. So, this program really helps me.

Could you describe a typical weekday, from when you wake up to when you go to sleep?

In the morning, Cole plays with his cat. And then I walk him to school and I go to work. I work as a sales and marketing coordinator for a software company that sells to HR managers. I do a lot of planning and graphic design. We are a smaller company of about fifty people. Then, when I get off work, we go home. On the weekends, we try to ride our bikes and we go to the zoo a lot. Cole likes to make things so we do a lot of crafts.

How did you first hear about the K2C program?

I first learned about the program from a flyer that was sent home in Cole’s backpack. It was very comprehensive. I scanned it and emailed it out to my family almost immediately. They try to help us out when they can and I thought this account would be a great [way] for my family to consolidate the money they had been putting aside to help us. The matching program was a huge incentive. I don’t want to give away free money, especially when we don’t have a lot to go around. Kindergarten to College is really clear and easy to understand, which helps me and my family take action.

Are you an active saver? If so, why?

Yes, I’m an active saver through the automatic direct deposit I set up. I give ten dollars from every pay check. I wish I could do more. I only make ten dollars over the limit for what you need to be in the free lunch program, which is frustrating but it is good to see that you all give more money to those in the program. It is difficult for me to afford to stay in the city and rent a place. We just moved to a smaller place, but things are close. We don’t do things like go to the movies. But, I really want to stay in San Francisco so Cole can stay in this great school and so we can continue to be in this program.

What were your initial reactions to the program? What drew you to start participating in K2C?

My initial reaction was, ‘Oh, I have to share this with my family.’ I acted pretty much immediately after reading the flyer. I knew I had to take advantage of what’s being offered. It is a really good and important thing that is being done.

Were you nervous about any aspect of the K2C account?

I don’t think so. I just wanted to know more about how the program will develop in his other years in school. I didn’t have any trepidation though. It seemed clear to me.

These days, saving is difficult for many families. How do you make savings a priority?

It is hard being a single mom without any child support. I have to rely on my family. I don’t think ten dollars a month is the difference between food and not food. So, I contribute that. At one point, I was worried I would have to take Cole out of Taekwondo because of the costs. But my family always comes through. It is the same with the K2C account. When it is something important like this, we find a way to make it happen.

How do you think K2C will make a difference in your child’s education?

It will definitely give him the possibility of going if he decides he wants to go to higher education. He may be a special needs student but he is very smart and creative. He could design a new vacuum cleaner or something. I want this option to be available to him. This is an opportunity that I just couldn’t provide on my own.

What can your child learn from being part of K2C?

He can do a little bit of math now but I don’t know if he would fully comprehend what the program is or means. Cole can seem very creative but he wouldn’t understand what a lot of his peers do. Although I don’t know if the other kids in his grade know about the program either. He does understand getting his allowance of one dollar a week and saving that; he kind of hoards it. He always wants me to pay for things so he doesn’t have to touch it. He likes that his wallet is filled up with dollar bills.

Any advice for other K2C parents?

I would say take full advantage of every aspect of the program. They shouldn’t be missed. I can’t afford not to and I think it is kind of crazy for anyone to pass up this kind of opportunity.

When you were growing up, did you have any experiences with saving?

I had a bank account I was not allowed to touch. I knew not to ask for things or ask about the account. We didn’t have that much money. My mom showed me how to write a check and taught me about how banks worked. I didn’t have a lot of experience but I did know that if I wanted something I would have to save up my allowance and get it myself. It takes time. There isn’t that instant gratification that I think a lot of kids these days are used to. They don’t know how to save and work towards something. For Christmas, my parents bought Cole an iPad mini. And one of the first words he learned to read was “free” because he knew those were the games he was allowed to get.

Catching Up With SEED Saver La Terra Cole

By Veronica Weis on 07/19/2013 @ 10:30 AM

Tags: Children's Savings Accounts, Featured Stories

We last saw La Terra Cole at the 2012 Assets Learning Conference in Washington, DC when she shared her incredible story in a savers plenary with Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter and two other savers. I caught up with her recently to hear about her upcoming law school graduation and other thoughts and advice she might have for aspiring college savers and those interested in the growing movement of children's savings accounts.

Why did you decide to study law?

People told me for years that I should be an attorney. As a young person, I was frustrated by the fact that adults saw me as a consumer of information and the only expectation was that I comply with their decisions. In foster care I attended a number of court hearings where I did not speak at all. The first time I spoke in a courtroom I raised my hand and asked whether I had the right.

Young people have great ideas that deserve a forum where they can be heard. I became an attorney to ensure the existence and integrity of those forums.

Have you chosen a certain field of practice? If so, what motivated the decision?

Yes. The outpouring of support and encouragement at the ALC was amazing. Having people express a desire to contribute to my next endeavor was eye opening. I had been dreaming about expanding my part-time consulting work into a full time business. I left the ALC with a sense of commitment to do just that.

I have continued to help businesses and young people engage one another around legal and policy issues. I have had great success building partnerships that bridge legal or policy reform with a youth driven return on investment.

These positive results have motivated me to start my own consulting business.

Have you continued to save through law school? Is there something in particular that you’re saving for?

I learned in the SEED program that consistency is the key to saving so I am pinching pennies to save for start-up costs.

What savings advice do you have for students struggling with the rising cost of education?

I would suggest to work part-time whenever possible. In addition to having an income, you can command a higher salary after graduation based upon on your experience. Also, I started at a community college. I chose to pay lower tuition for general education credits outside of my field of interest. Finally, in my last year of undergrad, a friend and I decided to switch off on preparing meals. Every other day we each prepared a meal for the both of us. It saved me so much time and money I regretted that we had not thought of it sooner.

What are your post-graduation plans? What’re you looking forward to?

I look forward to the simple pleasures that get consumed by law school. I am most looking forward to reading for fun again. I miss lazy afternoons lost in second hand bookstores. I am also looking into small business counseling.

Now that you’re starting your own family, what savings practices do you hope to continue or start with your partner?

Anthony is amazing. He understands how hard I have had to work to get where I am now and he wants to maintain our financial health. One savings practice we hope to continue is avoiding debt.

We set a goal to pay off 100% of our debt, other than my law school loans, before our wedding date and also to not accrue any debt before then either. That meant we would have to pay for the wedding and honeymoon in cash while tackling any outstanding debt.

It was not easy but we stuck to our goal. I am very proud of our resolve because the wedding is three weeks away and we did it!

Everyone told me it was important to use credit cards to build my credit. I see the logic in that advice but the reality is that credit cards are not cost free. I use a credit card only when I have a genuine emergency.

Do you have any advice for policymakers about how they can better craft policies to help close the education gap for low-income students?

In my experience, young people are more likely to be engaged in early education if they can see a connection to their long-term goals. Creating a culture of college expectation early on could motivate young people to stay in school.

The SEED initiative worked because I was able to manage real money that I could earn or loose the opportunity to earn based on my own efforts. That lesson could not have been taught in a classroom alone. It is important to remove financial barriers but also to have young people participate in the process. The effort alone strengthens your resolve to see it through. Every dollar is another affirmation of your goal.

Small Business Week Story: Meet the Curriers

By Veronica Weis on 06/20/2013 @ 11:00 AM

Tags: Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories

EDITOR'S NOTE: As part of Small Business Week on The Inclusive Economy, we're making the case for policies that benefit self-employed Americans by telling their stories of success. This last story features the Curriers, a couple in the Twin Cities area who worked with our partners at AccountAbility Minnesota.

The Curriers had debt, but not enough to qualify for a lower interest rate and consolidation. So when they found out that they qualified for tax breaks as small business owners, they were delighted.

“Ron and I have always been in the middle of things,” Stefanie said. “Having our taxes done here has saved us a lot of money and time. “

To get her taxes prepared, the Curriers went to AccountAbility Minnesota (AAM) – a community-based nonprofit that provides free tax assistance to lower income individuals and families to build their assets and give them financial security. CFED’s Self-Employment Tax Initiative (SETI) program provides the funding to train tax professionals in self-employment services and also support AAM’s innovative pilot to provide video tax preparation and the development of Webinars on retirement planning for the self‐employed.

Stefanie loved working with Accountability Minnesota because every time she called with a question, a tax adviser quickly provided her an answer! The additional money they received from working with AAM on their taxes allowed them to expand their economic opportunity.

“The money we received back last year helped us to pay down our debt. This year we plan on paying off more debt so next year (hopefully) we will be in a position to buy a home!”

Small Business Week Story: Meet Natasha

By Veronica Weis on 06/19/2013 @ 01:30 PM

Tags: Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories

EDITOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to our friends at EBALDC for sharing this tax-time story.

As part of Small Business Week on The Inclusive Economy, we're making the case for policies that benefit self-employed Americans by telling their stories of success. This second story features Natasha, a Woman's Initiative for Self-Employment graduate.

From Natasha

“I’m a Woman’s Initiative for Self Employment graduate; I graduated last year. They told me about [EBALDC] and that was how I first met you. It was free, which was amazing for a small business owner, since the bottom line. In every other place you go you have to spend hundreds of dollars. Here, not only you get this more personalized service but you don’t have to pay for it. For a small business owner, it makes a huge difference. I decided to save half of my refund. [I learned] not to expense my gas and I should learn to track my mileage instead, which I’m working on. The moment I got my taxes done I put it on my facebook, and I tweeted about. Duh, it’s awesome! This is the first time I have ever committed some of the refund to savings and doing something with it. Usually my tax refund would disappear within a couple of weeks.

The whole commitment of saving half of my refund… I found out about it, got a letter, and then you called me. I think it’s great. People need that one special extra push to save. It’s hard to save, and it’s great this program is in place because it helps as lot of people.”

Does your organization help entrepreneurs like Natasha? If so, send us an email so we can share your success stories during National Small Business Week and beyond!

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