With tax season in full swing, students in Manhattan College’s School of Business are once again teaming up with the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to provide free tax preparation services to local Bronx residents. The free service is offered at the Refuge House in the Fordham Bedford section of the Bronx for qualified Bronx residents in partnership with University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP), Fordham Bedford Community Services and Ariva Inc.
The VITA program offers free tax preparation assistance with electronic filing nationally to qualified families with an income of $56,000 and under and individuals with a gross income below $26,000. 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. Nearly 50 Manhattan College business students are participating in this year’s VITA program, which first started in 2010.
“The VITA program melds the best of what runs deep within the Jasper student body, motivated men and women striving for academic excellence, all the while being mindful of their responsibility to give back to the community at large,” said David Cohen, CPA, visiting instructor of accounting. “It’s exciting to be a part of it.”
In 2013, the VITA program at UNHP resulted in more than $2.3 million (1,812 returns) worth of tax refunds to Bronx residents with an average earned income credit refund of $2,047.
Free income tax preparation is still available for qualified Bronx residents on select Saturdays (March 22 and 29, and April 5) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays (March 12, 26 and April 9) from 1 to 6 p.m., for the remainder of tax season 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.