CUNY kids FOCUS on tax help


| vmimoni@queenscourier.com |



Flushing activist Grace Meng announced recently that FOCUS, the community service group she founded, has partnered with students from Baruch College of the City University of New York (CUNY) in a free tax preparation clinic in Flushing.
The FOCUS office, located on the third floor at 135-29 Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing will be opened on Saturdays and Sundays from February 2 through April 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We are pleased to be one of the selected free sites operating in New York City,” Meng said, adding, “we urge people to come to our office, and make sure they get the money they are entitled to.”
Taxpayers are advised to call 718-359-0767 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays to make an appointment. Walk-ins will be accepted, but taxpayers who made reservations will be served first.
Now in its 17th year, the Baruch tax program has helped thousands of New Yorkers, many of them senior citizens or immigrants with limited English language skills complete the filing process painlessly.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is an outreach program started in 1969 and facilitated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). VITA offers free tax help for low- to moderate-income people who cannot prepare their own tax returns nor afford services from a professional tax preparer.
Because of CUNY/Baruch College’s remarkable ethnic and linguistic diversity, students can assist many New Yorkers in their native tongue. This year, approximately 350 students are taking part in the Baruch VITA program citywide.
In Flushing, English, Korean, Spanish and Chinese interpreters will be available, Meng said.
She advised that those seeking help to bring Photo ID, Social Security cards for themselves, spouses and any dependents, and all forms that may have been received, like W-2, 1099 and interest notices from banks, etc.
Meng suggests that applicants bring whatever other forms they think might or might not be needed. “It is better to have extra information than to make several trips back-and-forth,” she said.
Whenever possible, bring a copy of last year’s return and forms - this is a tremendous time saver and can prevent serious mistakes, according to Meng.
Baruch VITA Volunteers are certified by the IRS to complete Federal Forms 1040 and 1040A as well as New York State Forms IT-150 and IT-201, with accompanying schedules.
Volunteers can also help with such issues as earned income tax credits and other credits and deductions available to low and moderate income taxpayers. All tax returns will be quality-checked by a manager.
For more about the program please visit www.baruch.cuny.edu/vita or www.nyc.gov/eitc.