Everything You Need to Know About HWCLI’s VITA Program

Are you interested in receiving free tax preparation through HWCLI’s Virtual VITA Program? You’ve come to the right place! HWCLI’s Virtual VITA program is generously supported by Citi Community Development. Additional support is provided by Bank of America, Capital 1, and Bridgehampton National Bank.

Here is everything you need to know about HWCLI’s 2019 Virtual VITA Program:

When Does It Start?

You can prepare your 2018 taxes with us starting January 29, 2019. You can prepare taxes from 2015, 2016, 2017 starting March 1, 2019.

If your household income was less than $55,000 in 2018, you could qualify for completely free tax preparation!

How Does it Work?
The Virtual VITA program utilizes technology to connect the taxpayer and tax preparer. The process is quick and simple. Make an appointment at our main office in Melville or any of our intake sites across Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

1. HWCLI staff will scan your tax documents to our secure online system and assist you in completing the intake forms.
2. Documents are uploaded to our secure online system.
3. An offsite tax preparer from the Food Bank for NYC will call you within three business days to complete your return over the phone. They will confirm your identity, discuss your income, expenses, any money owed, as well as if you qualify for a refund or tax credits.
4. If you have an email address, you can sign your return right from your smartphone or tablet. Or, return to the site to sign and file your return.

What Do I Bring?
Here are all the documents you need to bring to file your taxes through HWCLI’s Virtual VITA Program.

  • *Joint returns require both filers to be present to sign the return*
  • You MUST bring Social Security Cards or ITIN for all people on the tax return
  • Valid Photo Identification (You and your spouse, if you are filing jointly)
  • W-2 for all jobs you had in 2018
  • Voided check and/or savings account number if you want direct deposit of your refund. (Optional)
  • Form 1099-R or SSA if you receive a pension or Social Security
  • Form 1099-G if you received unemployment benefits
  • If you have educational expenses, bring the 1098-T or 1098-E form
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Form 1099– DIV or INT)
  • Total paid for child care & child care providers tax ID or Social Security
  • Number of child care provider
  • Form 1098—Mortgage interest and property taxes
  • NEW: If you purchased health insurance through the New York State of Health Marketplace, bring form 1095-A or B


We cannot prepare your taxes if you have:

  • Any of the following income: rent income (Scheduled E), royalties, partnerships, trust or farm income.
  • Tax returns for ministers or members of the clergy.
  • Moving expenses or HSA.
  • Form 4797 Sales of Business Property.
  • Self-employed health insurance deductions.
  • Domestic productions activities (form 8903).
  • Credits from forms 2439, 8839 and 8885.
  • Federal tax fuel Scheduled 4136.
  • Household employment Scheduled H.
  • PR income, Foreign Earned Income exemption (forms 2555/2555-EZ).
  • Adoption Credit.
  • Out of state returns or part-year residents of NYS.


Where Can I Go to Receive This Service?

Click Here for a Full Listing of HWCLI VITA Sites, Schedules, and Contact Info for Appointments


If you have any questions,  contact Tommi-Grace at (516) 505-4430.

Tweet Chat: Q&A with CBPP

We partnered up with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on January 27th, 2017, to celebrate EITC Awareness Day through a Q&A Tweet Chat.

CBPP and their Director of Federal Tax Policy, Chuck Marr, answered all of our questions regarding the Earned Income Tax Credit and how it affects low-to-moderate income working individuals.


Join HWCLI & CBPP for an #EITCAwarenessDay Tweet Chat

The Health & Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI) is partnering up with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) to bring awareness to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program and the Earned Income Tax Credit(EITC) on #EITCAwarenessDay.

EITC is one of the most effective anti-poverty programs out there. According to the CBPP, “The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low- and moderate-income workers has been shown to increase work, reduce poverty, lower welfare receipt, and improve children’s educational attachment.”

VITA sites provide free tax preparation services to families earning less than $54,000, helping them to avoid unnecessary fees and gimmicks.

Last year, 7.1 million New Yorkers received 4.1 billion dollars in Earned Income Tax Credits. That’s an average refund of $2,366 per household. Long Island VITA sites assisted almost 14,000 people in tax preparation and helped 2,500 people receive their EITC and CTC (Child Tax Credit).

A family’s tax refund offers a chance to put some money into savings, to pay off a late bill, or to finally get those repairs done. It puts money that was earned back into their pockets.

VITA and EITC can give families the boost they need during tax season. Help us raise awareness by participating in our Tweet Chat this Friday!

Use the #EITCAwarenessDay to participate.

Preparing Taxpayers for Refund Delays

According to a new change in tax law passed by Congress in December 2015, the IRS cannot issue refunds before February 15, 2017 for all tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). The IRS must hold the entire refund — not just the portion with the credits — until at least February 15. This change helps ensure that taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the agency more time to help detect and prevent fraud.

Many low and middle income families that are eligible for these tax credits rely on filing and receiving their refund as early as possible and often plan to address pressing financial needs with these refunds. Although information is widely available about the refund delay, many households may be surprised by this change which could make them more likely to turn to predatory lenders promising early refunds that are actually payday loans. As advocates, it’s important to spread the word of these changes so taxpayers are aware and can properly prepare, if necessary. Here are some facts and tips to help prepare taxpayers:

  • Taxpayers should go ahead and file as soon as they have all of their tax information. There is no advantage to waiting until closer to February 15.
  • The delay only applies to taxpayers eligible for EITC and/or additional CTC. Tax payers not receiving these credits will receive their refund within normal processing time frames.
  • There are no exceptions. No paid tax preparer can get one of the affected refunds from IRS any faster. Tax payers should be wary of any paid preparer that claims the tax payer can access their refund before February 15
  • Encourage tax payers to plan now for the delay. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released a set of tools designed to help individuals, families, and tax preparers deal with dilemmas like mounting bills, responding to debt collectors and effectively planning a schedule to pay outstanding balances
  • Taxpayers should NOT file without the EITC/ACTC just to get withholding back and then later file an amended return to get the credits. Filing an amended return requires additional tax preparation and can take months to process
  • Encourage tax payers to avoid potential predatory preparers and complete their taxes for free through a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Households with incomes less that $54,000 in 2016 may be eligible and can call 516-505-4424 for more information or to schedule an appointment

VITA preparers have a higher accuracy for EITC claims

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to consider Chairman Orrin Hatch’s bill to combat identity theft and tax refund fraud.  The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities suggests that it should take this opportunity to restore a provision in a previous version of the bill that required paid tax return preparers to meet a basic standard of competence.

IRS research finds that about 400,000 preparers who prepare more than 13 million earned income tax credit (EITC) claims each year never have to pass any test to certify that they know the tax rules or to take any training on changes in tax rules.  U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro recently told the committee:  “IRS found that paid preparers filed about 68 percent of the EITC returns in a year or two-year period of time and about 48 to 53 percent over claimed the tax credit.”   Recommendations were made several years ago to allow the IRS to regulate paid tax preparers, but those regulations were overturned by the court.  Dodaro reiterated the Government Accountability Office’s long-standing position that paid tax return preparers should meet a basic standard of competence.

IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and Tax Counseling for the Elderly do have to demonstrate competence and have much higher accuracy rates for EITC claims.   The lack of oversight of unenrolled preparers, those who are neither attorneys, certified public accountants, nor enrolled agents, highlights the importance of VITA programs and the assistance they offer low-income families.

Free Tax Preparation Assistance

If you made less than $54,000 in 2015, you may be eligible for free tax preparation assistance through the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island’s Virtual VITA program. The Virtual VITA program utilizes technology to connect the tax payer and tax preparer. Instead of waiting at the intake site for an available tax preparer, the tax preparer is at an off-site location. The intake process takes less than 20 minutes and tax returns are completed in a few days, ensuring clients get access to all tax credits and refunds they may be eligible for.

It’s fast, easy and free!

For more information or for times and locations call 516-505-4432

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