Brooklyn Boro

Free tax prep at Brooklyn Borough Hall

March 29, 2019 Mary Frost
A taxpayer gets assistance at Borough Hall. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
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Need help preparing your state and federal tax forms?

Certified volunteers are preparing tax returns for free until April 15 at Brooklyn Borough Hall. It’s part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance’s program to help low- and middle-income workers and the elderly.

“It’s a great program,” taxpayer Guerda J. Martin told the Brooklyn Eagle. “When you go to H&R Block, which I used to do, you pay a lot of money. I’m a senior citizen and partially disabled, so if the government will help me out, it’s my turn.”

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This was the second year Martin had her taxes prepared for free by VITA, which is sponsored by Grow Brooklyn, the IRS and other partners.

Stephanie Eaton, who is into her second year with the program, prepared Martin’s taxes.

“I’m actually a Canadian citizen; we moved here a few years ago,” Eaton said. “I have a finance background and was just looking to do some volunteer work in the community.

She added, “I thought that my background worked well into doing taxes and I learned something new,” she said. “I used to do my taxes back in Canada and now I’m learning about U.S. taxes.”

“We get lots of repeat volunteers,” Lauren Woodson, the program’s site manager at Borough Hall, told the Eagle. “It’s always cool to see people come back year after year.”

Woodson said her volunteers try to educate tax payers while filling out their forms.

“We give them tips for the upcoming year, such as how to keep track of expenses,” she said. This applies to both young people filing their own taxes for the first time and the elderly.

“We recently helped a 98-year-old woman do her taxes,” Woodson said. Throughout all those years, “No one ever explained taxes to her.”

There are about a dozen Grow Brooklyn/VITA sites in New York City, with nine in Brooklyn.

New Yorkers with an annual income of $62,000 or less with children — or $35,000 or less without children — can visit a free tax prep site.

To schedule an appointment call 347-682-5606 or visit the Grow Brooklyn website. Most time slots at Borough Hall are already booked, but other sites still have availability. Borough Hall is also accepting some walk-ins, Woodson said.

Grow Brooklyn is an affiliate of affiliate of Brooklyn Co-op Federal Credit Union, a nonprofit financial institution founded in 2001 that provides affordable financial services in neighborhoods neglected by mainstream financial institutions.

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