2014-02-05 / Features

Urban Upbound, Officials: Free Tax Prep, Refunds

President and founder of nonprofit Urban Upbound Bishop Mitchell Taylor, joined by Councilmember Costa Constantinides, Assemblymember Catherine Nolan and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer spoke at Earned Income Tax Credit  Awareness Day, informing New Yorkers about free tax prep services and refunds.President and founder of nonprofit Urban Upbound Bishop Mitchell Taylor, joined by Councilmember Costa Constantinides, Assemblymember Catherine Nolan and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer spoke at Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day, informing New Yorkers about free tax prep services and refunds.Elected officials, community partners and residents from Western Queens joined Urban Upbound on January 31 to recognize Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day and encourage New Yorkers to use free tax prep sites to file their taxes. Last year, Urban Upbound provided free tax prep services to 2,825 individuals who collectively received $3.4 million in refunds. This year, the organization hopes to serve 4,000 New Yorkers.
Urban Upbound tax prep services come as much-welcomed news for many New York City families who often are forced to pay high fees or are scammed into rapid refund services that can wind up costing them hundreds of dollars. Urban Upbound’s services are completely free. Last year, in recognition of the need, Urban Upbound expanded tax prep services from Long Island City to Astoria, Flushing and Sunnyside. This year they will also offer services in Far Rockaway.
Joining Urban Upbound to talk about EITC Awareness Day and free tax prep services were Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer and Costa Constantides, and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan.
“Free tax prep sites like ours, run through the VITA program, enable qualified working families and individuals to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit benefit – which provides a particularly important lifeline for families in our public housing neighborhoods and beyond,” said Bishop Mitchell Taylor, president and founder, Urban Upbound.
“Each year, Urban Upbound helps public housing residents and low income New Yorkers get back millions of dollars on their tax returns,” said Majority Leader of the City Council Jimmy Van Bramer. “Maximizing the amount of money people receive is at the heart of Urban Upbound’s fantastic tax preparation services. By keeping the community at the heart of its services, Urban Upbound empowers those they assist through quality programming that improves the fabric of the neighborhood.”
A representative from the office of the Taxpayer Rights Advocate at the state Department of Taxation & Finance will also be present to provide information, distribute literature and answer questions from the public about EITC.
“Too many families on fixed incomes have too few resources when preparing their taxes. Urban Upbound has been a beacon for our community providing many financial services that cover all aspects of financial health including much needed tax preparation. I commend Bishop Mitchell Taylor and Urban Upbound for providing these critical resources to families that need it across Queens,” said Constantides
“With tax season fast approaching, many New Yorkers are not aware of the tax credits that they’re eligible for...the benefits from it can be substantial for many working families,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I want to commend Bishop Taylor and Urban Upbound for their dedication to helping New Yorkers realize their financial goals by providing support and assistance in credit repair, debt reduction, budgeting and savings techniques.”
“For years, Urban Upbound has done a tremendous job serving our low-income and public housing population by providing critical tax preparation services. I am pleased to support this program and I look forward to working with Bishop Taylor to get the word out and help make this service more available to those who need it,” said Councilmember Peter Koo.
“Every year when tax season rolls around, Urban Upbound and Bishop Taylor are there to help those in need get the most out of their tax returns. This helping hand is invaluable, and this year even more Queens neighborhoods will benefit as Urban Upbound expands its reach. I am proud to work with Bishop Taylor as he continues to prove that a community organization really can make all the difference,” said state Senator Michael Gianaris.
“Urban Upbound’s track record of providing tax preparation services, financial literacy and financial services to the low- and moderate-income residents of public housing in Western Queens is exemplary, and we are proud to partner with them to highlight and expand this initiative,” said  Christopher Hanway, executive director, Jacob Riis Settlement House.
“Urban Upbound provides valuable services to our communities. During last year’s tax season, we had the pleasure of working together with Urban Upbound in our office and we were able to provide a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site in the district. We look forward to our continued partnership and providing more services to our working families this year. Our office’s VITA site, thanks to Urban Upbound, served over 800 New Yorkers last year. These numbers demonstrate the need from our community for this service. Providing a VITA site is a clear way to connect people to financial services and long term financial planning. These services put money back into the pockets of working families during these hard economic times. I am so proud of our partnership with Urban Upbound,”Assemblymember Ron Kim said.
“I am delighted to join Bishop Taylor in encouraging my constituents to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit. This is a great program that helps hard-working lower income people recoup some of their hard-earned money through the tax system. Bishop Taylor’s Urban Upbound program will help residents of Western Queens file their EITC claims – it’s a fast, easy way for people to claim the money they’re entitled to receive from the federal government,” said Congressmember Carolyn B. Maloney
“I commend Bishop Taylor and Urban Upbound for all the work they have done to ensure that our residents are up to date on all of the recent tax changes,” said Assemblymember Catherine Nolan. “It is important that residents in Long Island City have all the information and assistance they need to file their taxes as the deadline approaches.”
“Organizing this awareness day underscores the important and excellent service Urban Upbound has been providing in our communities. They really live up to their promise of tackling poverty and changing lives. NHS of Northern Queens is proud to partner with Urban Upbound in these endeavors,” said Ygmar Wiel, executive director Neighborhood Housing Services of Northern Queens.

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