With at least 71 current tax site locations across the five boroughs, including new sites in the Bronx and Brooklyn, Food Bank is one of the nation’s largest Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) providers
(January 30, 2023, New York, NY) – Today, Food Bank For New York City will begin filing tax returns at no cost for eligible New Yorkers who earn less than $60,000 a year. For over 20 years, Food Bank For New York City’s free citywide tax assistance program, which has saved filers over $200 million in tax preparation fees and put more than $1.2 billion back into the pockets of hardworking New Yorkers and the city’s economy, will begin its returns preparation and tax benefit education efforts for the 2023 tax season. In addition to providing over 800 food pantries and soup kitchens citywide with healthy and nutritious foods each day, Food Bank’s programming goes beyond food distribution to provide New Yorkers in need with much-needed income support programs to make ends meet. Its tax prep program is among one of the nation’s largest Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) providers.
In 2021 alone, IRS certified volunteers trained by Food Bank prepared more than 17,500 returns, yielding over $30 million in refunds for New Yorkers across the city. This year, Food Bank’s goal is to provide free tax preparation services in 75 locations across the five boroughs with the goal of continuing to help New Yorkers in need like a single parent who struggles to afford clothes for their children, or a college student who might not have enough money to afford their textbooks. New in-person sites this year include the Mott Haven section of the Bronx and YWCA in Downtown Brooklyn.
The VITA program is an IRS-sponsored program and year-round, Food Bank relies on hundreds of dedicated volunteers to ensure filers receive the crucial and necessary tax refunds they depend upon, which ultimately helps people fight poverty rates and food insecurity. Volunteers from all over the city and backgrounds are welcome, and often include college students who are interested in honing some skills they will need later in their professional careers. All training is provided for free in the weeks leading up to the start of the tax season.
“We want to maximize tax refunds in order to put money back into New Yorker’s pockets and the city’s economy, especially if they are already struggling with food insecurity,” said Leslie Gordon, President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City. “Living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, many New Yorkers are continuously struggling financially and filing taxes is often an additional expense for our neighbors in need. Through the help of our tax filling services, many clients have been made lifesaving improvements by having enough money to pay their bills, purchase clothes, and buy the medications needed to improve their health. Some are even able to make career changes and even start their own small businesses.”
“Our free, safe, and secure tax filing service is supported by an expert team of hundreds of multilingual IRS-certified staff and volunteers who ensure filers receive all the refunds and credits to which they are entitled,” said Zac Hall, Senior Vice President of Food Bank For New York City. “Our goal for 2023 is to provide $36 million in refunds for eligible households, saving filers $9 million in tax prep fees by completing 20,000 tax returns and reaching 75 external locations to ensure that New Yorkers have one less thing to worry about during tax season.”
The VITA program casts a wide net in helping New Yorkers file their taxes. Last year, 72 percent of clients were women filers, 43 percent of clients were Black or African American filers, 42 percent of clients were seniors 65+, and 35 percent of clients were Hispanic or Latino filers. VITA and tax services are provided to all New Yorkers seeking assistance with this kind of service who meet the requirements.
Food Bank provides tax filing services in three different models:
- In-Person Virtual Preparer: Volunteers work alongside Food Bank tax staff at various community-based locations across NYC to assist clients on-site;
- Virtual VITA Back End Tax Preparer: Volunteers work alongside tax staff at Food Bank’s Back End
- tax preparation centers to complete returns submitted electronically from our network of Intake Sites across NYC;
- Remote VITA Tax Preparer: Volunteers use a computer with internet access to prepare returns remotely and securely from home/work supported by Food Bank tax staff to help individuals file returns virtually.
For more information on the VITA program, how to volunteer and to locate sites around the city, please visit foodbanknyc.org/vita.
Media Contact: Maddie Diaz, Food Bank For New York City Associate Director, Media Relations, MDiaz@foodbanknyc.org
About Food Bank For New York City
Food Bank For New York City is the largest hunger relief organization of the city fighting food insecurity on the ground since 1983. By partnering with over 800 soup kitchens, food pantries, and campus partners across the five boroughs, Food Bank is able to make a direct impact in the communities that need it most, providing some 1.4 billion meals to New Yorkers since its founding. But food alone can’t solve hunger. That’s why Food Bank employs a two-prong approach of Community Nourishment programming (to provide immediate and reliable access to food today) with Economic Empowerment programming (to equip people with the tools they need to achieve food security into tomorrow and beyond). All of these services – from grab-and-go pantry bags to hot meals, tax filing assistance, SNAP enrollment, nutrition education, and financial empowerment workshops – are free and available to anyone who needs them. To learn more about Food Bank’s mission to dignify, nourish, and empower ALL New Yorkers facing food insecurity, visit foodbanknyc.org.