UNHP assisted 1,422 households file their taxes for free this year. 2016 was our 9th tax season and one of the great privileges of offering this service has been able to work with people over the years. Meet three of our returning clients, Nicole, Elle and Patricia.
Nicole, Elle and Patricia have been using our free tax preparation service for years - coming to us after paying high fees and getting erroneous tax information. Nicole, Elle and Patricia ’s daughter qualified for the Earned Income Credit (EIC) .The Earned Income Credit is a refundable tax credit designed for lower income working families and individuals. The amount of the credit varies depending on the level of income and how many dependents live in the household. The tax credit can be significant and even generate a tax refund larger than the amount of tax paid in through withholding. The EIC has earned income limitations and restrictions on the age and living arrangements of your relatives. As these stories show, the EIC can help low-income families take care of their disabled loved ones, help pay for education and supplement a low wage job.
Nicole was featured in our blog in 2013. Three years ago she was a hardworking Mom to a three year old, pursing her masters in human resources at Mercy College and hoping to work as an HR professional one day. Nicole was happy to find the free tax preparation services at UNHP and move away from paid services – the paid service actually incorrectly filed her taxes leaving her with fees and interest for their mistake. Three years later and Nicole remains busy raising her son (now 6) who is “doing well in a charter school kindergarten” and Nicole is” very proud” of him. In the past three years, Nicole moved away from her receptionist job into human resources assistant work. Because she continues to meet the income limits and lives with her son, Nicole still qualified for $3,000 in Earned Income Credit, but her big news is that she is now an HR Associate for High Rise Fire Security. She recruits, screens and interviews for new account executives, and technical installers. She also provides information and assistance to employees about benefits, and programs. Nicole’s education and experience at lower level HR jobs paid off for her. Congratulations Nicole!
Elle had been filing her taxes as a single woman with no dependents for years. She has an adult daughter who lives with her, but Elle never mentioned that her daughter lived with her on her intake sheets because her daughter has her own income. UNHP Tax Coordinator Fernanda, reviewed her return and asked her if anyone in her home was disabled. Elle shared that her adult daughter was disabled with serious medical issues. Fernanda updated the tax return to include this information and because Elle’s daughter was disabled, there was no age limit and even though Elle’s daughter had her own income, she continued to live with her mother - therefore making Elle eligible for the EIC. Elle not only qualified for the EIC on her 2015 return, but was able to work with UNHP to amend her back returns to apply for the credit. Elle and her mother who came with her to the appointment were elated. She was still thinking about what to do with her significant refund, but thought it might help her pay off some student loans and work towards a new car.
Patricia’s daughter, Dee also files her taxes for free with UNHP. Patricia and Dee share the expenses related to Drew and are happy to support him as he pursues his dream of college. Patricia receives a w-2 for her wages, even though she has an ITIN. Dee, a US citizen, works two jobs and earns most of her income as a sales associate at Terranova Bread in the Bronx’s Little Italy. She is raising her son and helps support her brother. She qualified for the Earned income Tax Credit in an amount almost equal to her salary. Dee will use the credit to help support her brother in college and provide for her son.
Patricia is very pleased with UNHP/Ariva Free Tax preparation services for her and her family. In the five years working with UNHP, Patricia went from owing money to getting a modest refund. When she went to a paid preparer, they charged her $75 to get an ITIN and said she could not claim her children because she did not have a social security number. – but this is not true and working with UNHP, she benefited from claiming her children, claiming the child tax credit and paying into social security. Patricia hopes that one day she will be able to become a US citizen.
Patricia refers friends and family to UNHP for free, knowledgeable, bilingual, financial services including ITINS and tax filings. Patricia proves that working together as a family and getting the right help can improve your family finances.
Read more about some of our favorite tax clients on our blog.