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:
The above services were provided at the Open House by:
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.