Bob Cohen saw a problem and vowed to correct it. He saw a need and wanted to fill it. Today, thousands of people across the country are getting tax refunds and credits easily and without charge because of his work and the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, which Cohen directs. The problem Cohen saw was desperate low-income people, often people with little knowledge of the government or tax system, losing much of their refunds to tax preparers who offered them instant money while taking a huge cut of their check. The need he wanted to fill was for an easy, online program that would allow people to skip the commercial tax preparers, file their taxes themselves and get their money almost as quickly.
One year after receiving $6 million in federal funds to help stem the foreclosure crisis, the city of Santa Ana has spent half of that money and provided housing for only five families while helping two borrowers. Five other homes are in escrow. Adam Elmahrek of Voice of OC has the story.