Tax-time matched savings program helping Calgarians to save

26 March 2019

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Earlier this month, the Tax Time Savings Program launched its second year of programming, after showing successful results from the pilot year. It is a new matched savings program that encourages and supports low-income tax filers to save at least $200 from their tax refund in a personal ATB Financial savings account. Developed in partnership with Momentum and the Aspire Calgary Financial Empowerment Collaborative (Aspire), and presented by ATB, the initiative aims to scale matched savings programming in a low-touch way by using the opportunity of lump sum tax refunds to help people save. Qualifying families are required to leave their deposit in their ATB savings account for at least one year in order to receive a 50 per cent match on their funds up to $500. 
 
Preliminary evaluation highlights

In its first year that runs March 2018 to April 2019, the program is already showing promising results:
 
  • One hundred and thirty-one active participants achieved a combined savings of over $136,000! 
  • Ninety-seven per cent of the participants that opened a bank account succeeded in making their initial deposit of at least $200 by the June 30th deadline. 
  • From the June 30th minimum deposit deadline to the October 31st maximum deposit deadline, the combined savings balance increased by 46 per cent. 
  • Seven-two per cent of registered participants followed through in opening an ATB Bank Account. 
Some recommendations for moving forward
 
With such positive results it is no surprise that recommendations from the evaluation include continuing to implement the program into 2019. Additionally, the hope is to:
 
  • Seek opportunities to expand the program to other tax clinics throughout Calgary
  • Increase promotion efforts to participants before and during tax clinics; and
  • Advocate for changes to tax refund options for Canadians to decrease barriers at tax time and increase savings.
Year two of the Tax Time Savings pilot program is currently being rolled out as of March 1, 2019. The current savers from year one have until April 30, 2019 to leave their savings balance untouched in order to receive their full 50 per cent match. In May this year, there will be wrap-up celebration events to distribute the matched savings, provide financial literacy guidance on how participants can use their combined savings, and complete evaluation surveys. 
 
Learn more about Momentum and the Tax Time Savings program 
 
Momentum is part of the Financial Empowerment Champions project. The Financial Empowerment Champions (FEC) project is a Prosper Canada initiative conducted in partnership with E4C, Family Services of Greater Vancouver, Momentum, SEED Winnipeg and Community Financial Counselling Services, and Union des consommateurs. The goal of the project is to improve the financial well-being of 175,000 Canadians living on low incomes.