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Warren, Dinolfo urge residents to use free tax filing assistance

Director of CASH Berta Rivera.

Director of CASH Berta Rivera.

Mayor Lovely Warren, County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo and community leaders are urging citizens to take advantage of free tax-filing assistance through April 9.

Throughout tax season, the Empire Justice Center’s Creating Assets, Savings and Hope (CASH) program swill be offering free tax assistance to city residents at the Bausch and Lomb public library building. Qualifications for CASH extend to families who make less than $55,000 annually, with qualifying children, and less than $40,000 for childless citizens, as well as only having lived and worked in New York.

Alongside CASH, the United Way of Greater Rochester is offering both in-person and online assistance via their MyFreeTaxes service. That service extends to residents making up to $66,00 and offers tax filing assistance from the New York State Department of Taxation at the Central Library and the City’s Business and Community Services center on North Fitzhugh Street.

“The City turned to CASH to train some of our own people, who will be volunteering at the Business and Community Services Center on Fitzhugh Street to help people file their taxes on MyFreeTaxes.com,” Warren said.

The Central Library will be offering tax preparation services from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesdays and at the Business and Community Services Center on Tuesdays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

The goal, Warren said, is to assist residents who may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Benefits, and other tax breaks, to get the money they are owed.

“Our message is this: Claim what you are owed and put this money to work for yourself, your family and your future,” Warren said.

CASH is a community-based organization featuring over 40 local organizations aimed at empowering impoverished people across the region through financial literacy, training and services. Founded in 2002 by the United Way of Greater Rochester, the organization has been based out of the Empire Justice Center since 2007.

“This is definitely a service that is necessary, it is something that our families here locally are utilizing,” said Berta Rivera, director of CASH. “Whenever we say free service, especially when it comes to tax returns, people might get a little apprehensive, what does this free thing mean? The reason it is free is because we have over 300 volunteers that come to us every single season that spend up to 20 hours  training, certifying and passing IRS tests to offer these services and connect families here to refunds and credits they rightfully deserve.”

CASH’s tax preparation is not just a charitable endeavor, but rather an investment to help ensure more money is brought back into the community. Rivera said, since 2002, CASH’s assistance in tax filing has helped secure over $45 million to citizens that would have otherwise been left on the table.

“That’s $45 million that’s going back to the community, back to the families that need it to use it the way they want it,” Rivera said.

Jaime Saunders, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Rochester, said CASH is a critical service and a model for community-based tax filing services.

“Nowadays, we don’t get things for free usually, but this is free with a tremendous impact,” Saunders said. “It truly lifts all boats.”

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