March 23, 2016
First Lady Chirlane McCray encourages women, mothers across five boroughs to save money, claim tax credits at one of City’s over 200 free tax prep locations
Consumer Affairs launches community-based education effort to build on last year’s historic success connecting New Yorkers to free tax prep services
NEW YORK—First Lady Chirlane McCray and Department of Consumer Affairs First Deputy Commissioner Alba Pico today remind New Yorkers that there is less than one month to file taxes before the April 18 deadline. They also encouraged New Yorkers, especially women and mothers across the five boroughs, who earn $62,000 or less to file their taxes for free using NYC Free Tax Prep. Studies show that women not only earn less than men but are more likely than men to be single parents with more complicated employment situations, positioning them to benefit most from free tax preparation and to claim important tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the NYC Child Care Tax Credit (NYC CCTC). The announcement coincides with the launch of the second phase of DCA’s public awareness campaign, which includes targeted community outreach.
“Most moms I know have many good, constructive uses for a tax refund,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Honorary Chair of the Commission on Gender Equity. “For women, who are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be the head of single-parent households with complicated employment situations that make filing taxes difficult and potentially expensive, this free support is especially important. I urge women who are eligible for the earned income tax credit to find the nearest NYC Free Tax Prep site and take advantage of the help. Don’t leave this refund on the table.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women are more likely to work part time and to be self-employed than men, which can make for more complicated tax returns and an increased cost to use a paid tax preparer. Additionally, according to the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau, more than 80 percent of single-parent households were headed by single mothers and, according to a study commissioned by the New York Women’s Foundation and conducted by the Center for Research & Policy in the Public Interest, 40 percent of these households are impoverished. In New York State, women earned 87 percent of what men earned and throughout New York State women are more than two times as likely as men to work low-wage jobs, earning less than $10.50 per hour.
“April 18 is right around the corner and we want New Yorkers who are eligible to file for free to use NYC Free Tax Prep and claim important refund-boosting tax credits like the EITC,” said DCA First Deputy Commissioner Alba Pico. “There’s no reason to pay to get your hard-earned money when our professional volunteer preparers can be your go-to tax preparer and help you get the full refund you deserve at one of hundreds of sites across the city.”
“Single mothers across the boroughs know how difficult it can be to make ends meet. We think that tax time can help low income working families save money and apply for substantial tax credits,” said Azadeh Khalili, Executive Director of the Commission on Gender Equity. “Women are more likely to work low-wage jobs, and already earn less than their male coworkers. First Lady McCray and the Department of Consumer Affairs are making an important statement by reaching out to New Yorkers – especially women and single moms – to take advantage of these free tax services and the EITC.”
“With the deadline to file taxes fast approaching, it is more important than ever to educate New Yorkers about the valuable tools they have at their disposal to guide them through complicated tax processes,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “NYC Free Tax Prep will provide thousands of hard-working New Yorkers – especially women – with help filing their taxes and understanding the credits they qualify for. I want to thank the administration and the Department of Consumer Affairs for leading this initiative to ensure that all New Yorkers receive the tax refunds they rightfully deserve.”
“Tax Day is coming, and NYC Free Tax Prep can make it easier for New Yorkers earning less than $62,000 a year – especially women,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I encourage everyone who qualifies to take advantage of this important service, so they can file their taxes with confidence and get the best refund possible.”
“I don’t want families in Brooklyn to leave any of their money on the table this tax season, especially those eligible for programs like EITC,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “I urge every Brooklynite to claim any tax credits for which they are eligible to increase the amount of their refund and return resources to our community. I am pleased to partner with colleagues on the City, State, and federal level to put hard-earned dollars back into homes across Brooklyn, benefitting hard-working families that are the foundation of our borough.”
“Be smart with your money and take advantage of these free, legitimate services to file your taxes, claim important tax credits and keep your hard-earned money in your pocket,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
“The deadline for people to file their taxes is fast approaching, with about 28 days left between now and April 18. I am so glad that the Department of Consumer Affairs continues to take such a proactive approach in reaching out to people about the benefits of filing their taxes for free through the NYC Free Tax Prep campaign,” said Council Member Rafael L. Espinal, Jr., Chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee. “Through this initiative, qualifying New Yorkers can save their hard earned money by not having to bare the expense of tax preparation services, while at the same time ensuring that they get the highest possible refund by taking advantage of any eligible credits, such as the EITC and NYC Child Care Tax Credit, which they are entitled to receive.”
“The Earned Income Tax Credit and the NYC Child Care Tax Credit are two of the most effective anti-poverty initiatives in New York City. It is crucial that every eligible family file their taxes and take advantage of these credits that will help uplift them. The New York City Council and I are very proud to support over 200 free tax prep sites across the five boroughs where New Yorkers may have their taxes prepared by professionals at no cost,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Chair of the Finance Committee.
“Being a single parent and head of household is a challenge, particularly for women who have to do more with less by stretching every dollar to make ends meet. Free income tax preparation will incentivize New Yorkers to file earlier and claim important tax credits, while saving eligible households the cost of a preparer. As Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues, I want to thank First Lady Chirlane McCray and DCA First Deputy Commissioner Alba Pico for their continued outreach to provide New Yorkers with the support and flexibility they need to file by Tax Day,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.
“Tax season can be stressful for many New Yorkers, especially women who may be single parents, part-time workers or in other situations that can make for a complicated tax return,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “I encourage all of my constituents who earn $62,000 or less per year to take advantage of this City initiative. Visit the City’s NYC Free Tax Prep website or visit one of the four drop-off locations on Staten Island’s North Shore to ensure you claim all qualifying tax credits without spending your hard-earned income on an expensive tax preparation service.”
“New Yorkers should know they may be eligible get free help to file their taxes or get a tax rebate through the Earned Income Tax Credit program,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “Thank you to First Lady Chirlane McCray and Department of Consumer Affairs First Deputy Commissioner Alba Pico for promoting these essential programs to help hardworking New Yorkers.”
“With so many NYC residents – especially women – eligible for the EITC in New York, it is vital that we expand awareness of free tax prep services and access to the Earned Income Tax Credit,” said Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance. “Citi is proud to partner with the City for the second consecutive year as we work to implement new services that expand both awareness and access to crucial tax credits and financial coaching that together bolster the financial resilience of New Yorkers.”
This year, tax preparation services include more than 200 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and AARP Tax-Aide sites citywide, as well as online self-preparation at nyc.gov/taxprep. At the sites, returns are prepared by an IRS-certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer. At 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.
EITC, one of the largest poverty reduction programs in the United States, is a federal, state and New York City refundable 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 $2,400 and can be worth as much as $8,427. Families with low incomes who are employed or underemployed and have child care costs for children up to age four could also be eligible for up to $1,733 with the NYC CCTC. Combined, these refundable tax credits can total more than $10,000.
The City’s free tax filing options:
The City’s Annual Tax Season Initiative increases awareness about tax credits that put money back in the pockets of working New Yorkers, and helps qualifying New Yorkers file their taxes for free. Recognizing the anxiety that many people feel when preparing their taxes, this year, the City used a humorous approach in the advertising campaign to encourage New Yorkers to reduce their stress by getting free filing assistance using the City’s trusted, professional services.
The second phase of the campaign, which launches this week and is supported by Citi, includes NYC Free Tax Prep Coffee Days where free coffee will be distributed at locations in several targeted neighborhoods. A team of outreach staff will also be traveling to 17 targeted ZIP codes over the next two weeks to encourage people to file for free at their local NYC Free Tax Prep site and NYC Free Tax Prep-branded coffee cups will be used at a network of 62 locations in the identified ZIP codes. The campaign also includes additional subways, community and ethnic newspaper, radio and digital advertisements, a new video, and a postcard mailing and robocalls to nearly 120,000 EITC-eligible New Yorkers.
The first phase of the City’s campaign, which launched in January, included advertisements in subway cars, stations, bus shelters, and telephone kiosks, as well as in print and on radio. DCA did a targeted mailing to more than 330,000 EITC-eligible New Yorkers and used a call center to directly contact more than 135,000 EITC-eligible New Yorkers to inform them of their nearest free tax preparation site. Additionally, the City’s tax season partners are also distributing approximately 595,000 informational brochures in multiple languages to their networks of potentially eligible filers. This year, the City also unified more than a dozen free tax preparation partners under a new “NYC Free Tax Prep” brand identity and is partnering with employers to enable them to serve as a drop-off site for their employees, making tax preparation even more convenient.
In 2015, as part of Administration’s commitment to delivering essential services to New Yorkers with low and moderate incomes and helping them improve their financial stability, the City, with support from Citi Community Development, invested directly in the partners and expanded its public awareness campaign. As a result, the City helped New Yorkers file more than 150,000 returns, an estimated 50 percent increase in the number of people using the City’s free tax preparation services. The campaign successfully returned more than $250 million in tax refunds and fee savings to New Yorkers with low incomes.
About the Department of Consumer Affairs
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) licenses, inspects, and educates businesses, assists and informs consumers, mediates complaints, and offers free financial counseling and safe banking products. DCA enforces the Consumer Protection Law, the Paid Sick Leave Law and other related business laws throughout New York City and licenses nearly 80,000 businesses in 55 different industries. For more information, call 311 or visit DCA online at nyc.gov/consumers or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.