Community Tax Aid NYC - Storefront Accountant - June 2021

Preparing tax returns under the COVID umbrella forced us to be creative when it came to taxpayer interaction. CTA volunteer Emil Gomez (right) operated a drop-off site at Fountain House. There, adhering to set protocols, he met FH member Christopher Bannon to review his returns. PHOTO CREDIT: Amy Ferrara
To say this past season was unusual is to put it mildly. For CTA it meant facing obstacles it never encountered pre-pandemic. A summary of these issues includes:
With our commitment to offer tax preparation services this year, CTA had to, in effect, change its operations. It affected the way we recruited volunteers, our training methods, and the way we monitor and interact with each other. A special committee within our organization was set up to make suggestions. These suggestions focused on fully embracing social media and computer software. An online version of our tax software was purchased. It allowed volunteers to work at home and allowed for a schedule that accommodated their work, school, and home lives. Training was conducted via ZOOM and attracted even more potential volunteers than we anticipated. You Tube was used to post recordings of our training classes, forever linking us to anyone surfing the net and wanting to know about taxes. ZOOM was also employed on several recruiting events held at local colleges. Google Meets was used to have face to face tax interviews with tech savvy taxpayers. For other taxpayers, we used conventional methods, including telephone interviews and tax materials sent to us via snail mail and a drop off service.  After experiencing a learning curve with these changes, CTA operated efficiently with one notable exception.
Working under the virtual method, with limited contact with our clientele, was difficult at first. We expected our productivity to slow and that was the case. The time to complete a return, based on prior year results was, generally, one day. Under this new virtual method, turnaround time slowed to about one week from start to finish. This was anticipated and our clientele understood this.
Changes in the tax code is generally an annual event. Announcements of these changes, usually before the season starts, are publicized. Tax groups, including CTA, then begin their homework to get up to speed with these changes. Our training materials are updated, making us ready to instruct our volunteers and help our clientele. What if, as in this past year, these announcements occurred DURING the tax season?
On March 11, barely four weeks into the season, The American Rescue Plan Act (the “Act”) was passed. The changes it wrought affected returns that CTA already prepared. For example, the Act changed the taxation, at the federal level, of those receiving unemployment benefits. The first $10,200 in benefits received was not subject to taxes. CTA, just learning about this change, had to scramble to inform those UI recipients of the change and to amend their returns. For those who pay for health insurance premiums through an Exchange, another change in the Act affected these taxpayers. In prior years, some of these taxpayers had to remit an excess Premium Tax Credit, based on their income and the type of insurance they may have. As a result of the Act, these taxpayers did not have to remit this excess. It proved to be a tax savings for some CTA clientele.
With the season now behind us, what have we learned? Well, as in the past, this organization is indeed resilient. We look at any change with a belief that we can, and should, face them and overcome them. In terms of changes in our operations, is what CTA experienced a one-year aberration or is it something that we should embrace? Have we learned new and better ways to offer our services? Answers to those questions will be for our board to decide. Oh, by the way, anyone who is reading this is invited to attend our next meeting. It will probably be a ZOOM meeting. Oh, another ZOOM meeting. This may be permanent.  
For those wishing to receive a Volunteer or CPE certificate, it is necessary for you to submit your time. You can access our timesheet via the shared Google drive. We anticipate issuing the certificates towards the end of June. Reach out to us at with any questions you may have.
 CTA’s upcoming annual meeting serves two purposes: to review the season just past and to elect the Board for the next fiscal year. All volunteers are invited to attend. This is a great way for new volunteers to know learn more about what CTA does.
Here are the details:
WHEN: Tuesday, July 13, 2021. The meeting starts at 6:30pm.
WHERE: This meeting will be conducted virtually. If you would like to have access to this meeting, please contact us at

Copyright © 2021 Community Tax Aid Inc, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp