January 18, 2017

Bronx Residents, Staff and Student Volunteers are Gearing Up for Year 10 of UNHP Tax Program

by UNHP

The 2017 Tax season is here! UNHP’s first tax day at Fordham Bedford Community Services’ Refuge House will be February 1st, but preparation and trainings are already well underway. 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of the UNHP Free Tax Preparation Program and we expect to assist over 1,200 Bronxites this year. January was busy with training our staff on the new VITA software, training student volunteers and holding a pre-tax open house for residents.

UNHP hosted a Bronx Financial Fitness Open House on Wednesday, January 18 at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center at Refuge House. Attendees were able to get information about delayed refunds from the IRS, the status of ITINS and other important tax information. Over 30 Bronx residents, many of them UNHP tax clients, booked their tax appointments, met with the UNHP Financial Clinic Coach, and obtained information and assistance with credit, housing, rental subsidies, immigration and banking. Santander Bank and Amalgamated Bank attended and provided information on free and low costs financial products. Laura Cantre, Burnside Avenue Amalgamated Bank Branch Manager, led a brief workshop on basic banking tools, the benefits of direct deposit and immigrant banking rights and opportunities. NYC and NYS agencies were present to assist Bronx residents.

​Attendees were able to sign up for a free tax preparation appointment with UNHP and get on-the spot help to:

  • Apply/Renew ITINs
  • Open free banking accounts and Products

  • Get previous taxes reviewed (if any error is found we can amend your 2015, 2014, & 2013 forms)

  • Get updates on the refund schedule and EITC credits

  • Commit to saving a portion of tax refund towards a goal in 2017

  • Prepare for any immigration changes

  • Schedule free consultations with reputable immigration attorneys

  • Get Credit Reports & FICO Scores

  • Qualify for SNAP, Affordable Healthcare or Reduced Metro Cards

  • Freeze Rent under NYC’s SCRIE/DRIE

  • Apply for NYC Housing Lotteries & request applications from Bronx private managers

  • Address eviction, landlord harassment, denial of essential services, overcharges or any housing-related issues
The above services were provided at the Open House by:

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Tax appointments, credit reports ,ITIN renewals,and a banking workshop led by Amalgamated Bank and raffles were among the highlights at the UNHP Financial Fitness Open House.

Tax expertise and trained student volunteers are crucial to the UNHP Free Tax Preparation Program. UNHP is an IRS VITA site under the extensive VITA program of our partner, Ariva. UNHP and Ariva staff have been participating in IRS-led online trainings about the use of the new software, VITA TaxSlayer. UNHP has hired three seasonal staff members to assist with our program and Ariva provides an experienced site manager and two quality reviewers. UNHP’s full time staff, led by Jumelia Abrahamson, doubles as tax staff from January to April and are also fully trained as site managers, quality reviewers, tax preparers and intake staff. Fordham Bedford Community Services, our neighborhood partner, provides space, an equipped computer lab and staff assistance.

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UNHP staff have gained tax expertise over our 10 years running the program. Ariva’s best site manager ( according to UNHP), Svetlana G,. will work closely with UNHP staff to ensure that each tax return is quality reviewed and the client has received any credits for which they are eligible.

UNHP is working to get 85 student and non-student volunteers for the 2017 tax program. We expect the majority of our volunteers to come from the business schools of nearby Fordham University and Manhattan College, as they have in the past. Each volunteer tax preparer takes an online training, a test for certification and then participates in day-long training with UNHP prior to assisting residents. Every student volunteer and every tax return is checked by an experienced quality reviewer. 72 student volunteers participated in one of our two day-long volunteer trainings so far. The majority of students were from Manhattan College and Fordham University.

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Fordham University and Manhattan College students attended our tax training for 2017. We have over 70 volunteers trained so far and UNHP hopes to get 85 student and non-student volunteers this year. Oh and the pizza is always hot and plentiful for VITA Volunteers!

If you would like to volunteer as a tax or intake preparer, or would like to make a tax appointment, contact UNHP (718) 933-2539 or email volunteers@unhp.org.

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