Helping the "Working Poor" With Their Tax Returns

Every year, millions of dollars in tax refunds go unclaimed from the IRS because the “working poor” taxpayers who are entitled to these refunds must think twice before paying a tax preparer. Though many tax services offer “instant refunds,” often these needy taxpayers have no way of estimating how much of a repayment they’re likely to get—and prefer not to file at all rather than risk owing the tax service because their refund was too small to cover the prep costs. Clearly, this choice creates several problems for needy families—including various IRS enforcement consequences.

Further, elderly individuals on Social Security are actually leaving guaranteed money on the table by not filing a return: The IRS automatically deducts funds from their monthly SSI payments, and only repays it if a return is filed. Filing that particular return is fairly simple, but the fee charged by most tax preparers absorbs most of the refund—if not all of it.

For several years, The River Fund New York has been addressing these issues by providing free tax prep assistance to “working poor” taxpayers and seniors. Our free service has repatriated millions of dollars back into the community that would have otherwise remained unclaimed. This year, we are again providing this support to the needy in our community. The process involves making computer terminals available, getting our volunteers trained and certified by the IRS, and having them on hand six days a week during the tax season. As April 15 approaches, our team does a masterful job at juggling the limited space we have in our office—while maintaining our usual service levels in all of our other assistance programs that empower those we serve to beyond the lines of poverty.

To increase our capacity for future years, The River Fund is now in the process of doubling our office space. This will allow us to reserve four dedicated computer terminals for the Tax Season and elevate our tax assistance program to the next IRS Volunteer Tax Prep category—known as VITA. With this expansion, we will more than triple the amount our tax prep program repatriates into the community.

Every dollar donated to this particular endeavor literally puts $10 IN CASH back into the hands of a working poor family. To contribute directly to this endeavor, please click here.

Tax Return Self-Prep AssistanceOur in-house volunteer Tax Expert, Geovanny Prospel, teaches a client how to prepare her tax return herself at one of our workstations. He also personally manages the the return-prep and filing for all our senior tax clients.

The IRS would have kept his refundRaising his orphaned granddaughter on his own, without our service, this senior would have let the IRS keep his refund—because the cost of preparing the tax return normally absorbs most of the money.

Click here to support our
Tax Return Assistance Program

Setting up a senior's tax filingIt takes just ten minutes for us to capture the tax information of a senior. Their returns are then processed by tax professionals and their refunds arrive in their bank accounts ten days later.




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