Free Tax Prep Info. & MELS Webinar links

On Jan. 27, the DC 37 Municipal Employees Legal Services (MELS) held a Tax Tips webinar At which MELS Co-Supervising Attorney Shelly Barasch, who is also an accountant, explained what’s new for tax year 2020, such as what’s income, what’s not?

Barasch also discussed filing status, standard and itemized deductions, tax credits and more.  View the MELS Tax Tips webinar video replay at or the MELS Tax Tips webinar slides at


Beginning Feb. 1, 2021, Food Bank for NYC is offering free, contactless tax preparation services for low income New Yorkers to help them get the refunds and credits they are entitled to, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that can be worth up to $8,852 for some families. Here is the Food Bank for NYC link:

In addition, The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. Assistance is provided at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations.

Free tax preparation is also available through the New York State Department of Finance. Taxpayers with income of $72,000 or less in 2020 can complete and submit their federal and New York State income tax returns online for free. There is no need to pay for software or a tax preparer. Nearly 255,000 New York taxpayers used our Free File software last year, saving themselves an estimated $51 million in the process. To be directed to the free filing options, simply select Free File your income tax return on the Tax Department’s website.

To ensure you're not charged a fee, you must go to the Tax Department’s website to complete your return. You’ll save on tax preparation fees and added costs for software, prevent costly errors, and ensure that you directly receive any refund you’re owed in the most efficient way possible. Filing through the Tax Department website is 100% free.

You can receive any refund owed up to two weeks sooner by e-filing your return and choosing direct deposit.The IRS will start accepting 2020 tax returns on Feb. 12. The deadline to file is April 15, 2021.


The DC 37 Municipal Employees Legal Services (MELS) held webinars on Family Law (Oct. 28, 2020), Real Estate (Nov. 30, 2020), and Student Debt (Dec. 8, 2020) that each drew scores of concerned union members and retirees seeking legal advice. These webinars now are available online at or by clicking on the links below.

Family Law

The top three Family Law issues discussed by MELS lawyers were child support, visitation, and ACS Child Protective Services intervention in the home. View the Family Law webinar replay at or view the slides at

Real Estate

At the MELS Real Estate Webinar on Nov. 30, lawyers and housing experts explained the home-buying process. They discussed retaining and working with a realtor, financing and mortgages, seller and purchaser concerns, and home inspections.View the Real Estate webinar replay at or view the slides at

Student Debt

On Dec. 8, MELS Senior Attorney Joseph Davidson and other lawyers led a webinar on student loan debt and the CARES Act. They shared information on COVID protections for student borrowers, income driven repayment plans, loan consolidation, rehabilitation after default, and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. MELS legal experts also discussed the role bankruptcy can play in discharging or reducing student borrower obligations. View the Student Loan Webinar replay at or view the slides at

MELS attorneys are available to help DC 37 members and retirees who are covered by the free legal service. For more information, please contact the MELS Screening Unit at 212.815.1111, or email [email protected].