May 22, 2015

2015 UNHP Tax Wrap Up


UNHP’s Bronx Free Tax Preparation Program filed taxes for 1,501 people with 1,725 filed returns, trained 84 student volunteers, and delivered  $1.9 million dollars of fee-free refunds back to the Bronx.

Working with our partners, Ariva and Fordham Bedford Community Services, UNHP provided 16 tax days at Refuge House and another 4 mobile tax days at local senior citizen housing complexes in our community.

The success of our program would not be possible without the help of our volunteers. 84 students volunteers participated in the program this year committing a total of 800 service hours. Most of our volunteers are business students from Manhattan College and Fordham University who participated in about 20 hours of training before filing tax returns for Bronx residents.

In addition to free, professional and accurate tax preparation, the UNHP Bronx Free Tax Program offered same day financial services on-site at Refuge House. Over 100 individuals received their credit report and were able to have a brief credit analysis on their tax day. 17 individuals opened bank accounts at Apple Bank for Savings or Spring Bank and 40 individuals were able to obtain or file through an ITIN. Each tax participant learned about the available services at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center and were able to schedule appointments for financial coaching, healthcare access or public benefits screening as well as sign up for financial education workshops.

UNHP filed 1,725 returns for $1.9 million in fee-free refunds. The average return was $1,433.  UNHP tax program users continue to be low and very low-income Bronx residents; 89% of UNHP tax filers earn less than $30,000 and 56.8% earn less than $10,000. Tax day services were well used by our tax filers – 22  individuals submitted applications for SNAP, and 80 people received assistance around healthcare; 27 for pre-enrollment with a Marketplace Navigator and 53 for post enrollment problems with a Community Health Advocate. Over 100 filers obtained their credit report and a brief credit analysis.  Many filers made appointments for other Resource Center Services such as Financial Coaching or the UNHP-sponsored NTFP five session Getting Ahead workshop.

Below are some of the photo highlights of our 2015 program.  Photos by Dana Ullman.

Every tax filer makes a stop to visit Niki in the Education Room. At that time, they can sign up for a financial coaching, healthcare or public benefits screening appointments. Niki also lets tax filers know about our upcoming Getting Ahead workshops and events.

Pictured here are some of our 84 student tax volunteers. Many of our volunteers are business majors from Fordham University and Manhattan College, and together they provided 800 student volunteer hours.

UNHP organized on-site financial services during our tax days. Pictured here, Govind and Ora from SeedCo provide community healthcare information and public benefits screening. VaNessa offered Credit Reports and a brief credit analysis to tax participants, and UNHP helped tax clients file for an ITIN.

Johmery is a member of the CUNY Service Corps working with Ariva, our tax partner. Jo is enrolled in Lehman College and is majoring in accounting. As for her job providing financial education services to UNHP and Ariva clients – “I Love It!” Jo feels she was given the opportunity “to expand my skills” and would not mind working as a financial coach” But first she plans on getting her CPA. Thank you to Ariva for placing Jo at the UNHP tax site every Saturday where she has worked with tax clients to review their credit reports and map out a plan to improve their financial standing.

UNHP traveled to four senior citizen housing complexes owned and managed by community partners in the Northwest Bronx. Pictured here is our day at Rose Hill Apartments. Assistance from Rose Hill staff and Jai, FBHC’s Korean interpreter, was invaluable. We assisted nearly 400 Bronx seniors with their tax returns.

John, a Fordham student, prepares taxes for an usher with the New Victory and Duke at 42nd Street theater. She started out as a youth intern and has worked her way up into the ushers’ union. She is in between shows right now and took a break to come and get her taxes done at UNHP.

Florencio, UNHP’s Intake Manager and recent Manhattan College grad, works with Israel L. J. and Alberto A. They both served in Vietnam, but did not meet until they were back in the Bronx at the Kingsbridge Veterans Center. They have become close friends and even do their taxes together at UNHP.

Chris R., a Quality Reviewer from Ariva, works with student volunteer Richie and tax filer Georgina B. She is a retired home health aide and was happy to come to UNHP to file her taxes for free and receive personal and professional attention.