Manhattan College business students have partnered with the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for the sixth year in a row to provide tax preparation services to local Bronx residents this tax season. The program is held at the VITA program at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center 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.
“VITA enables our students to gain invaluable volunteer and business experience,” says Aileen Lowry Farrelly, CPA, M.S., assistant dean and visiting instructor in the School of Business. “It certifies them to prepare taxes and at the same time enables them to provide a necessary service to the local Bronx community.”
The VITA program offers free tax preparation assistance to qualified families with an income of $56,000 or less and individuals with a gross income below $26,000 (these guidelines apply in the Fordham Bedford section of the Bronx, but income limits may differ at other VITA locations). The free income tax preparation service allows qualified taxpayers to avoid expensive tax preparation fees and interest rates.
Student volunteers not only help local residents but also receive valuable accounting experience. All volunteers complete an IRS certification program, which develops the necessary skills required to prepare taxes, and a software training covering a range of tax credits and New York State tax filing. Since the VITA program first started at Manhattan College in 2010, approximately 160 students have participated.
“I have been involved in the VITA program for three years now, and it has been one of the most rewarding community service activities,” says Matthew Sullivan ’15, director of community outreach of the Beta Alpha Psi Honor Society for finance, accounting and computer information systems majors.
In 2014, the VITA program at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center resulted in more than $1.8 million (1,486 returns) of tax refunds to Bronx residents with an average earned income tax credit refund of $1,971.
Free income tax preparation is available for qualified Bronx residents on select Wednesdays (Feb. 25, March 4, 11, 25, April 1 and 8) from 1-6 p.m. and Saturdays (Feb. 21, 28, March 7, 28 and April 11), from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. until April 11.
Contact the VITA program at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center 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 the Northwest Bronx Resource Center or another city location.