MADISON, Wis. (4/7/11)--The Filene Research Institute has formed a coalition of credit unions to establish savings groups for low-income individuals in their communities. The coalition is planning for 2012 tax time. Because The Saver’s Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the refunds that taxpayers receive are all major contributors to the savings mix, Filene convenes the group to help taxpayers preserve as much of their refund as possible. The project, partially funded by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), seeks to help members save for the future. The project originated as a Filene i3 (Ideas, Innovation, Implementation) initiative called Savings Exchange. The i3 team collaborated with Kim Pate of the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) and included Jackie Edwards, Connexus CU, Wausau, Wis.; Tamela Meade, American Airlines CU, Fort Worth, Texas; Jon Reske, UMass Five College FCU, Hadley, Mass.; and Alison Wolf, FAA CU, Oklahoma City, Okla. Project consultants are John Hoffmire and Craig Wilson from Progress Through Business, a national nonprofit organization that works with underserved communities. Hoffmire also is director of the Center on Business and Poverty, which is part of the Puelicher Center on Banking Education at the Wisconsin School of Business, UW-Madison. Filene recommends the program for credit unions active in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, paid tax services, and with the Investor Education In Your Workplace program, which is sponsored by the Investor Protection Trust and supported by NCUF. Tax time is essential for savers, because the average refund for a family is $1,400, said Filene. This is one of the largest bundles of income that many people receive in a year. Also, for low- and middle-income taxpayers, a saver’s credit of up to $1,000 ($2,000 for couples) is available if they contribute to retirement savings plans. Filene is recruiting more credit unions to participate. For more information, use the link.