Federal and State Income Tax Filing in the Bronx
UNHP Free Tax Preparation Program
Our 2017 free Income Tax Preparation Program has ended. Our 2018 program will begin in January 2018 and we will begin making appointments at that time.
Ariva is a leader in free tax preparation services in New York City and works to empower low-wealth New Yorkers with effective tools and resources so they can make informed financial choices and achieve economic stability.
Fordham Bedford Community Services (FBCS) runs and manages programs for children and neighborhood residents at Refuge House. FBCS offers an after-school program, a youth summer camp, programs and access to a fully equipped computer lab, immigration services, and a daycare provider network. FBCS provides staff and space to UNHP’s tax program and UNHP is proud to share Refuge House with FBCS and expand the services available to neighborhood residents.
Every year, Bronx neighborhoods lose millions of dollars in tax preparation fees and costly products while filing taxes ie refund anticipation check (RAC) and prepaid cards. By providing free tax preparation services in these same neighborhoods, UNHP helps ensure that much needed money stays in the pockets of Bronxites. Additionally, many senior citizens receiving social security benefits are able to access the New York State refund to which they are entitled.
Tax refund anticipation loans (RALs) siphoned $54.7 million from the pockets of low income New Yorkers in 2007, according to a report issued by the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP), a New York City-based financial justice group. More than 40% of this amount came from the pockets of Bronx residents, at an estimated cost of nearly $22.5 million.These loans and fees decimate the positive effects of one of the largest federal anti-poverty programs known as the Earned Income Tax Credit. The four top zip codes for money lost to RALs were all in the Bronx. 10453 was first in the City at $1.74 million and 10456, 10452 and 10457 rounded out spots two through four. Also in the top ten citywide were zip codes 10458, 10468 and 10467, each of which saw more than $1 million going towards RALs in 2007.
UNHP is able to offer free tax preparation to Bronxites thanks to the effort of our tax preparation and intake volunteers. In 2015, 84 high school, college, and graduate students volunteered their time and efforts to help their neighbors get the tax benefits they deserve. Thanks to these volunteers, we were able to serve over 1,500 households and bring over $1.9 million back to the Bronx! Tax returns are one of the largest poverty reduction tools in the United States, and your help ensures that Bronxites keep their money without paying for predatory financial services.
We offer free tax preparation on select Wednesdays and Saturdays in January, February, March, and April at the Refuge House, located at 2715 Bainbridge Avenue at 196th. We ask volunteers to commit to a few days during the tax season, and of course we love it when volunteers can come more often!
Below is more information on what it means to be a Volunteer Income Tax Assistant (VITA) volunteer and how to get involved.
This is a great resume builder, as you will gain both hard and soft skills. It is a great way to fulfill service learning or community service hour requirements while gaining expertise for internships and jobs. You can also practice speaking another language, since many of our clients speak Spanish and other languages. At each session, we provide a meal for volunteers, and you will also receive a free t-shirt. Plus, you will get to meet wonderful people throughout the tax season and build your network of friends in the Bronx!
As an intake volunteer, you will greet tax clients and assist them in filling out preliminary paperwork. This is an essential step in the process, since it is important to provide a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for our clients. To become an intake volunteer, you will need to complete a brief online training and examination. Then, you will sign up for your shifts of tax preparation, and be ready to help!
As a VITA tax preparation volunteer, you will work directly with clients and the IRS software to prepare tax returns. There will always be professionally trained staff on hand to help you with any questions and to double check each return you prepare. To become an IRS certified VITA volunteer, you will need to complete a free online training and exam, which should take about 3 hours total. After passing the exam, you will attend a training at the Refuge House to learn to use the IRS software to easily complete tax returns. At the end of the software training session, you will sign up for a few days of tax preparation. Then you will be a certified IRS VITA volunteer and ready to assist your fellow Bronxites in getting their tax returns!
“(I want) to express once more my gratitude to the attentive and kind members of (UNHP) who, during the afternoon,[…] helped me with preparing various tax forms […], and who gave me the form to request my free credit report […] Thank you all.”
— Carlos G., Bronx resident