By Anthony J. Machcinski
During this time of year, many people are burdened with the hassle that goes into getting your taxes done. With the burden of deciphering language more complicated than the contents of a quantum physics textbook, tax season can be one of the most stressful times of the year. With that in mind, HOPES CAP, Inc. hopes to alleviate some of that stress.
“From a personal perspective, I know how hard it is to get taxes done correctly and not being able to afford it,” said Evelyn Mercado, Community Services Manager for HOPES CAP, Inc. “Especially with those who don’t speak English, they’re always doubtful but once you show them compassion, you get a sense of gratitude back.”
HOPES CAP, Inc. has helped lower income families to do their taxes, all for no cost, giving the families a sense of relief to many families in the community.
This is the first year that HOPES CAP, Inc. has extended its tax service to Kearny residents.
“We went to a community network association meeting and met up with (Mercado) while we were there and talked about the resources needed and we collaborated,” said NalaEvy Ortiz, director of the West Hudson Family Assistance Center.
Mercado said that HOPES CAP had been researching ways of expanding to Kearny. “The people in the town don’t get the services that they should be getting,” she said. HOPES CAP, Inc. is a service that helps low -income families – households with incomes lower than $51,000 – do their taxes. All volunteers are certified to do tax returns. HOPES CAP, Inc. is the only Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site in the area and can also help out with the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) program.
While HOPES CAP, Inc. has only been operating in Kearny just a few days, even so, it has still seen a great deal of success, staffers said.
“We originally set for two dates but had to work two more on top of that,” Ortiz said.
Being able to help out those in the community has been one of the benefits of the job for Ortiz.
“The language barrier, the intimidation factor, the fear, misinformation… there’s a large number of contributing factors,” Ortiz explained. “Our families feel very comfortable to speak to someone in their own language. It’s a very family friendly and environment.”
Even with the added dates this season, Ortiz is already looking to the future.
“We were very fortunate to establish a base in our community,” Ortiz said. “I’m looking forward to next year.”
This year’s current success would not have been possible without the volunteers in the Center who help run HOPES CAP, Inc.
“Mary Caldwell and Shereth Martin have been my right hand ladies,” Mercado said.
HOPES CAP, Inc. will be at the West Hudson Family Assistance Center at 655 Kearny Ave., Suite 103, on Thursday, March 29, and Thursday, April 12.
This year, April 17 is the filing deadline for tax returns.