The Savannah Coastal Empire Asset Development Coaliation (SCEADC) formely The Chatham Savannah Asset Development Coalition is a community based collaborative of social service organizations, governmental agencies, business and financial institutions dedicated to promoting financial education and stability for working individuals and families in the Savannah Chatham County and surrounding areas. The SCEADC was established in 2001 (originally as the Savannah Earned Income Tax Credit EITC/Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Coalition VITA) as a group of concerned community based organizations and citizens interested in providing free tax services to low and moderate income families. The initial Coalition was an outgrowth of a local investment from the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Savannah called "Targeted Investments". One of the family strengthening goals of the initiative was increasing economic outcomes for poor families. The initial Coalition consisted of six (6) VITA sites and a host of other committee partners, including the Internal Revenue Services regional office in Atlanta, GA, which also provided training and technical assistance to the sites. Since 2001 the Coalition has welcomed several new partners and the numbers of sites have doubled to twelve (12). The Coalition is now a collaborative partner with the Step Up Initiative which is designed to eliminate poverty in Savannah. The SCEADC recognizes that in order to strengthen families we need accessible and sustained resources to achieve economic and financial success. Each year SCEADC hosts several free income tax preparation sites which are serve low and moderate income families qualifying for the earned income tax credit (EITC). This includes families earning less than $55,000 annually (for tax year 2011). All returns are prepared by IRS trained and certified volunteers.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are operated under the guidelines and regulations of the Internal Revenue Service. VITA sites provide free income tax preparation assistance through the use of trained volunteers. The VITA programs were establish to ensure that awareness and utilization of the earned income tax credit and free income tax preparation services. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) approved by Congress in 1975, is a refundable federal income tax credit. Generally, when the EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit. VITA sites generally operate from mid January thru April 15th. VITA sites files returns electronically through an IRS supported software which makes it less likely to file an incomplete return and help avoid refund delays. Taxpayers have the option to receive their refund using the following avenues: *direct deposit into a checking or saving account *VISA prepaid card *paper check by mail. VITA sites operate by trained and certified volunteers whom prepare returns based on their perspective roles of certification
Individuals Development Accounts, or IDA’s are emerging as one of the most promising tools to help low-income American families save money, build wealth, and achieve economic independence. Obtaining economic self sufficiency is the key to ensuring families have a firm financial foundation to take care of basic needs. IDA’s are established savings accounts that allow the working poor to build the necessary assets to purchase a home, start a business, or further their education. Our IDA program is geared towards homeownership for the purchase towards your first home. IDA accounts are matched 3-to-1 for every dollar saved. Each IDA participants are required to contribute a minimum of $50 per month. The savings goal for each participant is $1,200 at the end of one or two year period. As part of the process, program participants also have to complete a financial literacy curriculum. Participants can also combine IDA funds with the City of Savannah Housing Department Dream Maker Program. The Housing Department offers three Dream Maker program with different level of home buying assistance offering affordable loans for down payments assistance, closing cost, gap financing and other related expenses. Applications for participating are currently being accepted.
Homebuyers education classes are held bi-monthly and participants are given a certificate of completion which can be presented to potential lenders. The workshops are designed to provide first-time homebuyers information related to what is credit and how does it work, predatory lending, shopping for the right mortgage and home, inspections, and the closing process. Topics are presented by experienced professionals within the related fields. Our homebuyers education workshop is certified by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Workshops Topics Include: