city offering help on tax credits News

| 10 Feb 2015 | 12:14

Through outreach efforts, volunteer services and advertising campaigns, the Department of Consumer Affairs hopes to help 150,000 New York families take advantage of free tax preparation services and file for the tax credit, up from about 96,000 families that filed last year. Tax credits and tax prep savings could total approximately $250 million dollars for the 150,000 residents.

The largest poverty reduction program in the country, EITC provides federal, state and city tax credits. Families with children earning up to $52,427 could qualify for the credit, while New Yorkers without children making up to $20,020 annually could also be eligible. Parents with children younger than four could also qualify for an additional credit designed to help alleviate child care costs. While the average refund is around $2,500, families can qualify for up to $10,000 in combined refunds.

“With credits like EITC, a tax refund can be the largest one-time sum a family receives in a year, which can be pivotal in helping them pay bills, get out of debt and save for the future,” said Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin, whose department spent an average of $165,000 in outreach efforts in previous years. “We have committed a nearly 20-fold increase in funding to the tax credit campaign because we believe every working New Yorker deserves to get their hard-earned refund.”

DCA estimates that one in five households eligible for EITC don’t file for the credit. To further raise awareness, the city also launched an $800,000 ad campaign, plastering promotional materials for the tax credit and the city’s free tax services on subway cars, bus and train stations and other outdoor locations, as well as a social media program encouraging New Yorkers to share how they’d use their refund.

The city urges qualified residents to take advantage of free tax preparation services offered online and throughout the five boroughs—there are 200 physical tax prep sites across the city. DCA created an interactive online map designed to help residents identify the most convenient free drop-off sites and tax prep locations where volunteers prepare returns.

On Jan. 31, as part of the city’s investment in its tax credit awareness campaign, 2,000 volunteers called residents across the five boroughs, educating them on the tax credit program and the city’s free services. DCA partnered with fellow city agencies to identify 270,000 New Yorkers who potentially qualify for the refund to target with phone calls, based on information from community tax data, neighborhood demographics and previous work with city services.

“The Earned Income Tax Credit is an important boost for working families and we need to spread the word,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “An EITC-enhanced tax refund could mean the difference between struggling and security, and money in working New Yorkers’ pockets is money that supports their own families and all the businesses where they shop.”

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