Taxes. No one likes thinking about them, and everyone knows what a tense and tedious experience filing a return can be. With that in mind, here’s some news guaranteed to dispel tax-season blues, dissolve uncertainty about forms and documents, and dissipate unease at dealing with the IRS.
COJO Flatbush is once again offering free tax preparation for eligible taxpayers through the NYC DCWP IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs.
That’s no typo – tax preparation absolutely free of charge for families that earned up to $80,000 and individuals who earned up to $58,000 in household income in 2022. It’s quick, convenient, and, most important, accurate, with tax-return forms carefully worked on by certified tax preparers intent on maximizing earned income tax credits and refunds.
The point about accuracy warrants elaboration. All VITA/TCE volunteers who prepare returns must pass tax-law training that meets or exceeds IRS standards. “The training,” says COJO Flatbush tax prep coordinator Bridget Chidubem, “includes a strong emphasis on maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of all taxpayer information. Also, in addition to requiring that volunteers certify their knowledge of tax law, the IRS mandates a quality review check prior to filing for every return prepared at a VITA/TCE site.”
The key to the process, says COJO lead tax preparer Violetta Loughnane, “is ensuring that our clients know exactly what income documentation they need to submit; providing an overall sense of reassurance; and answering questions and addressing concerns about any aspect of their tax return throughout the preparation process.”
Loughnane says she expects that this year many of those questions and concerns will center on Earned Income and Child Tax credits, due to important changes in tax laws since last year.
To COJO Flatbush social services director Shulamis Shapiro, the popularity of the Tax Prep program stems from the savings to taxpayers. “Even a relatively routine tax return will cost a person a couple hundred dollars,” she notes. “Multiply that by the number of tax-prep clients we service and it comes to hundreds of thousands of dollars remaining in the pockets of community members. That makes a tremendous difference to so many household budgets.”
For more information about COJO’s free Tax Prep program and to schedule an appointment, call Bridget Chidubem at 718-377-2900, ext. 331.