As Tax Day in the United States on April 18th approaches, The Fortune Society is proud to share our partnership with the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program offers free, basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals. This collaboration with the VITA Program enables Fortune staff to provide tax support to our community – both participants and staff that are eligible.
Financial literacy and taxes can be confusing and Fortune is glad to fill in the gaps where needed by helping our participants access any credits or benefits they may be entitled to. Eligible individuals must either make under $72,000 a year, have a disability, be limited in their English-speaking ability, or be over the age of 60.
The VITA Program has been in operation for over 50 years nationwide. Fortune’s contract with the VITA Program is new and housed in our Benefits Access Department. Thanks to the VITA Program, Fortune is able to offer tax preparation to our community of people affected by the criminal legal system. With free tax preparation, participants have a supportive team to help them navigate a potentially confusing process. Fortune staff can assist in filing 2021 taxes, as well as filing or amending tax reports as far back as 2018.
By helping file previous years’ returns, our Benefits Access team is able to get participants their much-needed refunds. For those incarcerated during 2020/2021, participants may also be able to receive missed stimulus checks.
Through Fortune’s tax program, Fortune staff and volunteers do not file taxes on behalf of participants or staff but help to streamline the process and answer any questions individuals may have about their filings. In the last year alone, Fortune has helped more than 160 community members with their taxes. The refunds totaled $206,069, with an average of $1,493 per return. Our strong team in Benefits Access, and specifically in the tax program, look forward to helping even more people this tax season.
Fortune participants that are interested in accessing the free tax preparation support and are eligible under the parameters established by the IRS can visit our Long Island City office and ask to be connected with Benefits Access. The deadline to file is April 18th.