FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, January 30, 2017
CONTACT: Stefan Ringel
Office of the Brooklyn Borough President
(917) 574-3277 firstname.lastname@example.org Abigail Lootens
Associate Commissioner of Communications and Marketing
New York City Department of Consumer Affairs
(212) 436-0042 email@example.com
Consumer Affairs Commissioner Salas, BP Adams, and Grow Brooklyn Announce NYC Free Tax Prep Opening at Brooklyn Borough Hall
Local Leaders and Taxpayer Advocates Remind 1.1 Million Eligible New Yorkers to Claim Refund-boosting EITC, More Brooklyn Filers Eligible Than Any Other Borough
BROOKLYN, NY—Today, NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Lorelei Salas, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, and Grow Brooklyn, the largest non-paid tax preparer in the borough, officially opened the NYC Free Tax Prep site at Brooklyn Borough Hall, reminding the roughly 1.1 million eligible New Yorkers to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). With around 325,000 returns claiming the EITC in 2015, according to the IRS and Brookings Institution, Kings County has more residents claiming the credit than any other county in New York State and is amongst the highest in the nation. EITC is a Federal, State and City tax credit for qualifying families, non-custodial parents (NYS EITC only), and singles who work full time or part time or are self-employed. For working families in New York City, federal EITC claims average $2,411 ($2,484 in Brooklyn) and can be worth as much as $8,463 when combined with state and City credits. DCA Commissioner Salas and Borough President Adams also encouraged New Yorkers who earned $64,000 or less, especially the 74 percent of EITC filers in Brooklyn who have previously paid a tax preparer, to file for free using NYC Free Tax Prep.
“EITC is one of the largest poverty reduction programs in the United States and a vital tax credit that helps working families pay bills and save for their families’ future,” said DCA Commissioner Salas. “This year, we are committed to helping connect even more New Yorkers with our trusted and professional free tax prep services so they can claim EITC because working New Yorkers deserve to get every penny of their hard-earned refund.”
“It’s your money, Brooklyn…go claim it!” said Borough President Adams. “From promoting innovative financial education tools such as Benefit Kitchen that show New Yorkers the resources they are leaving on the table, to opening the ‘People’s House’ as a free tax preparation site with the support of Grow Brooklyn, my administration is working on every possible approach that puts dollars and cents back in taxpayers’ wallets. I thank DCA Commissioner Salas for sharing my commitment to assisting working families across our borough and our city.”
“Grow Brooklyn is excited to offer free tax prep services at eight Brooklyn locations and in the Lower East Side,” said Samira Rajan, executive director of Grow Brooklyn, Inc. “These services are not only vital because they are free of charge, but also because they allow low- to middle-income individuals and families to take advantage of their full tax refund and earned tax credits. We look forward to partnering with DCA in serving New Yorkers and providing high quality service to our community.”
Beginning today from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Borough President Adams, in partnership with Grow Brooklyn’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, is offering a number of free tax preparation sessions for eligible residents, including single filers who earned $30,000 a year or less, filers with dependents who earned under $55,000 a year, and filers that are self-employed with expenses of $5,000 or less. Appointments are also available from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, February 17, Friday, February 24, and Monday, April 17, as well as from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, Thursday, March 23, Thursday, April 6, and Thursday, April 13. Those seeking more information are asked to call (347) 682-5606 or visit growbrooklyn.org
Filers should bring a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or IDNYC; Social Security Numbers (SSNs) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) and birth dates for themselves and all individuals on their return; all relevant tax forms (W-2, 1099-R, etc.), or income and expense records for those who are self-employed; their 2015 tax return, if available; proof of health insurance coverage or Health Insurance Exemption Certificate for the records of cash and non-cash charitable contributions; documentation of higher education expenses; child care expenses and provider information, as well as bank account numbers and routing numbers for direct deposit of tax refunds. Both spouses must be present for those filing joint returns.
“There’s nothing automatic about receiving EITC,” said Nonie Manion, acting commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. “Eligible taxpayers need to take action by filing an accurate tax return — and be able to provide supporting documentation if asked — to receive the credit. Fortunately, our free tax return filing assistance sites offer an easy, secure, convenient way to do that, and at absolutely no cost if you qualify.”
“Tax season is an opportunity to strengthen household financial resilience,” said Eileen Auld, New York Tri State market director for Citi Community Development. “By supporting the incorporation of innovative service design to improve the delivery of free tax preparation services, we aim to enable more effective alternatives for low- and moderate-income filers and ensure that those who are eligible for the EITC file appropriately.”
“With the start of the NYC Free Tax Prep season, the Mayor’s Fund is gratified by the incredible success of this program to help low-income individuals file their taxes at no cost,” said Darren Bloch, the Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City (Mayor’s Fund). “The Mayor’s Fund, through the generous support of our private partners, is proud to be helping DCA make professional tax preparation services easier to access for thousands of families, while establishing financial empowerment for more New Yorkers.”
Based on analysis conducted by Civis Analytics to inform a new benefits campaign called “Start By Asking
,” roughly 1.1 million New York City residents are eligible for EITC and approximately 120,000 are not claiming the credit. Developed with the City working alongside public, corporate and non-profit organizations, the campaign aims to educate everyone eligible for EITC about this potentially life-changing benefit – and other benefits. The City encourages those who are unsure if they are eligible for EITC but earned less than $54,505 with children or $14,880 without children, to file a tax return even if they do not think they need to file.
“The earned income tax credit can put $8,000 — or more — back into a hardworking New Yorker’s pocket. It’s real money for people who really need it, but so many people don’t even know to ask for it. That’s what “Start By Asking” is all about,” said Reynold Levy, president of Robin Hood, the largest poverty-fighting organization in New York and the largest private funder of the VITA program. “We’re proud to collaborate with DCA and Borough President Adams — and many others who have joined the Start by Asking coalition — to help New Yorkers get money they’ve earned.”
NYC Free Tax Prep services include more than 200 VITA/Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) and AARP Tax-Aide sites citywide, as well as online self-preparation at nyc.gov/taxprep
. At the sites, returns can be prepared in-person by an IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer or dropped-off to be completed by the preparer. At the convenient drop-off sites, filers can drop off their tax documents and return later to pick up the completed return or receive it by email. New Yorkers can call 311 or visit nyc.gov/taxprep
and use DCA’s interactive map to search for the most convenient free tax site. They can also text “Taxes” to 42033 (message and data rates may apply) to find the nearest location as well as receive tax season updates and reminders.
For most of the City’s free tax filing sites, New Yorkers with an annual income of $54,000 or less with children, or $30,000 or less without children, can visit one of more than 200 free tax sites in the five boroughs. Both in-person and drop-off sites have an IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer complete the return. New Yorkers earning less than $64,000 can file their taxes online for free at nyc.gov/taxprep
. The City partners with Intuit Financial Freedom Foundation and MyFreeTaxes, powered by H&R Block and in partnership with United Way Worldwide, to offer these services.
Earlier this month, DCA issued a Consumer Alert
to New Yorkers that due to a new federal law, the PATH Act
, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is required to hold refunds until February 15, 2017 for filers who claim EITC or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). As a result, some paid preparers are marketing “express refund advances” or “refund transfers” that result in a smaller refund, or unforeseen fees or interest. In Brooklyn, 30 percent of EITC filers used one of these refund anticipation products. Consumers using a paid preparer should ask the preparer for a Consumers’ Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers
(also available in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian and Spanish) and read it thoroughly before having their taxes prepared, as well as get DCA’s Tips Regarding Tax Preparers