For the fourth year in a row, Manhattan College business students are working with the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to provide free tax preparation services to local residents. Students are volunteering at the Refuge House in the Fordham Bedford section of the Bronx, and Manhattan is partnering with University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP), Fordham Bedford Community Services and Ariva Inc., to make the service available to qualified Bronx residents.
“VITA has provided an opportunity for myself and my fellow peers to use our skills with regards to accounting and finance, while helping out individuals in the Bronx and outlying areas who are in need of tax assistance,” said Brendon Camp, a senior majoring in accounting. “It has been a joy working with this program for the last 3 years.”
The VITA program offers free tax preparation assistance nationally to qualified families and individuals who have an income of $50,000 and below. By way of volunteer aid, the free income tax preparation service allows for clients to avoid typically expensive tax preparation fees and interest rates.
In addition to serving local Bronx residents, the program provides valuable accounting experience for the student volunteers. All volunteers complete an IRS certification program, which develops the necessary skills required to complete tax preparation, and a software training covering a range of tax credits and New York State tax filing. Since 2010, more than 40 Manhattan College business students have volunteered with VITA and over 30 are expected to participate this year.
“VITA gives our Manhattan College students a great opportunity to learn by doing. I expect great participation from our Jaspers this filing season as they volunteer and gain valuable experience,” said Gregory Bucci, CPA, visiting instructor of accounting.
In 2012, the VITA program at UNHP resulted in more than $1.5 million worth of tax refunds to Bronx residents. A total of 1,251 Bronx residents were able to receive free tax preparation assistance through the Refuge House’s VITA location last year.
Free income tax preparation will be available for qualified Bronx residents on select Wednesdays (Jan. 23 and 30, Feb. 6, 20 and 27, March 6 and 27, April 3 and 10) from 3 to 8 p.m., and Saturdays (Jan. 26, Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 23, March 2, 16 and April 6) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Refuge House at 2715 Bainbridge Ave., Bronx, N.Y., by appointment only. Contact UNHP by phone at (718) 933-2539 for more information and visit the IRS website to learn more about VITA and other city locations. Qualifying Manhattan College students and employees are also welcome to visit a city location.