United Ways Street Chat Case Study

About the Survey

In partnership with United Ways of California,  CommunityConnect Labs sought to understand awareness around the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), user experience with MyFreeTaxes, and preferences on tax preparation services. MyFreeTaxes is a free online and in-person resource for low-income communities seeking assistance in their tax preparation. 

Participants received a start message, and typed A. to begin in English or B. to begin in Spanish. 160-character survey questions were then sent to participants’ mobile phones and participants texted back their answers. A total of 288 participants completed this short, confidential SMS survey.

Research Highlight #1

Awareness around the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC)

When participants were asked if they have heard of CalEITC, 61% reported not hearing about it. Participants that did hear about it primarily did so through the radio/TV or while filing their taxes.

text survey responses - CalEITC awareness
text survey responses - CalEITC recipient

Majority of the participants (62%) did not receive CalEITC this year and 24% were unsure. This finding supports the low awareness around CalEITC.

When participants were asked broadly if they got money back this year, 77% said "Yes". The question of what kind of money naturally arises. This could either be federal or state (ie. CalEITC) credit for the participant.

text survey responses -  money back
text survey responses - federal refund check

Of those who reported getting money back, 43% said this was from a federal refund check for an Earned Income Tax Credit while 18% were unsure of the source.

Research Highlight #2

User experience with MyFreeTaxes

MyFreeTaxes can be used online or with in-person help at a nonprofit or United Way center. 66% of participants used myfreetaxes.org by themselves and 11% had in-person assistance with the tool. ​

Overall, 77% of participants filed their taxes through myfreetaxes.org either online or in-person.

text survey responses - tax filing
text survey responses - MyFreeTaxes.org recommendation

User experience with MyFreeTaxes is largely positive with 96% of participants very likely or somewhat likely to recommend the tool to a friend.

Research Highlight #3

Preferences on tax preparation services

55% of participants reported that saving money as the most important part of tax preparation assistance. ​

"Saving money" comes in the form of free in-person assistance and helpful online information found through myfreetaxes.org.

text survey responses - tax preparation services importance
text survey responses - tax preparation

Finally, 65% of participants prefer the free online help through myfreetaxes.org. This high preference for the online service may have been influenced by the 80% sample of participants who used MyFreeTaxes online by themselves.

Key Metrics

survey demographics gendersurvey demographics agesurvey demographics racesurvey demographics income

UWC's Pete Manzo talks about the results