VITA, tax refunds, Grow Brooklyn

By Makeela Brathwaite and Zade Haobsh

What would you do if you could keep your $85, $95, or even up to $150 in your pocket instead of paying a tax preparer?

Grow Brooklyn offers FREE professional tax preparation that will keep your  money in your pocket. Theres no need to pay for predatory, often expensive, retail tax services. We will prepare and file your taxes for free! Call 347-682-5606 today to make your appointment.

In our 15th year serving the community, Grow Brooklyn has emerged to become the largest non-retail tax provider in the borough. Simply put: we do not charge individuals and families who fall under our income limits to prepare and file their taxes in any of our seven locations.

We work with other organizations who do good work to help our communities thrive; You can find us in Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union both on Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick, and on Dekalb Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant; at St. Nicks Alliance on Broadway, and out of the Williamsburg Community Center with St Nicks and NYCHA on Graham Avenue in Williamsburg; in SSJ Training Center in Flatbush; in  the Greg Jackson Community Center with Community Solutions – Brownsville Partnership in Brownsville, and Neighborhood Housing Services of Bedford-Stuyvesant.  

We meet a number of great people each year. Some have  been with us from day one and bring their friends and family back year after year; others are new and filing with us for the first time. Sometimes new clients are somewhat skeptical at first, but our IRS-Certified VITA Volunteers put these filers at ease with their professional demeanor and positive attitudes.

This year, one client scheduled a Monday evening appointment at one of our locations, but over the weekend, she decided to get a quote at one of the major commercial retail tax providers. They concluded that she would receive about $1000 on her federal refund; the client wasnt satisfied with that result, so she didnt allow them to file her tax return. She then decided to come meet with our Preparers at her appointed time that Monday. When we completed her return here on Dekalb Ave, our highly-trained and certified volunteers found her more credits, which brought her refund up to $2500.

Another filer, a young single father with three dependents, came to the Flatbush location to  file his 2015 return. He had high hopes of having a large refund to take care of things for his family. A long-standing certified volunteer completed his return, he was disappointed by the results mainly because he expected much more.

The volunteer was able to walk the filer through all of the credits and how his circumstances had changed because one of his dependents aged out of the Child Tax Credit. The filer decided to leave and see what a commercial preparer could get for him. He called the next day to share that the retail Tax Preparer did not find him any more money, and he was forced into paying $200 for his return to be filed. He regrets not having filed with Grow Brooklyns VITA Program, but intends to use the service next year, and will tell his friends.

These stories are not so rare. VITA provides a great service for many people and Grow Brooklyn is proud to bring this service you! We’re happy to share the positive effect the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program has, and Grow Brooklyn fully appreciates that  Brooklynites come to us  so we may prepare and file their tax returns in order to  help them keep their whole refund.

VITA tax prep is reliable, professional, and free.Thus far this season, through the work of the IRS-Certified Volunteer Tax Preparers, Grow Brooklyn has been able to return to Brooklynites over $1.6 million in Earned Income Tax Credits, $3.4 million in Federal refund, and $1.3 million in State refund dollars.    We hope to continue to  share this valuable program  in the communities we serve.

Grow Brooklyns free tax services are generously supported by our sponsors: The Financial Clinic, the Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment and the Internal Revenue Service. Our sponsors recognize the professional, accurate, and courteous service Grow Brooklyn provides the community and their continued support helps us keep our service free.

You can help us by spreading the word on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtags: #Freetaxprep, #VITAWorks and #SaveVITA16 to be a part of the VITA Awareness Day communications.

The opinions, content and/or information in this article are those of the author and are independent of BK Reader.

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