For Immediate Release:
Friday, January 29, 2021
Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Encourages New Yorkers Who Earned $68,000 or Less to File for Free - And Virtually - With NYC Free Tax Prep
DCWP Launches its Annual Tax Initiative on Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day
NEW YORK, NY
– Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Lorelei Salas today kicked off the 2021 tax season with the launch of the Agency’s 19th annual tax season initiative and encouraged New Yorkers who earned $68,000 or less in 2020 to file for free using NYC Free Tax Prep. NYC Free Tax Prep offers trusted, professional service virtually and in-person to help New Yorkers stay safe and avoid tax preparer fees. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will begin processing returns on February 12 but New Yorkers can file for free with NYC Free Tax Prep now
“We know many New Yorkers are worried about possible changes to their taxes this year but if you earned $68,000 or less in 2020—do not pay to get your refund,” said DCWP Commissioner Salas. “Whether you lost your job and did or didn’t withhold taxes for unemployment, had new child care needs, don’t need to file but need help claiming your stimulus check, whatever your situation—NYC Free Tax Prep can help. Paid preparers cannot get you your refund any faster and we want you to keep every penny of your hard-earned refund.”
2021 NYC Free Tax Prep Services:
NYC Free Tax Prep offers multiple options to file for free, including virtual, drop-off and in-person services. Income eligibility varies but, in general, families with dependents who earned $68,000 or less in 2020 and individuals who earned $48,000 or less can use NYC Free Tax Prep. Filers should check the eligibility requirements and choose the filing option that is best for them. Anyone who lives or works in New York City can use NYC Free Tax Prep.
NYC Free Tax Prep services include:
- Virtual Tax Prep—like in-person free filing but online:Virtual Tax Prep is an online service where an IRS certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)/Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) volunteer preparer will video conference with filers to help prepare their tax return using a secure digital system. Filers can submit photos or scans of tax documents to the preparer, confirm their identity, and complete their return by video conference or by phone with a preparer. Filers will need access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone; a stable internet connection; and the ability to download secure video conference software.
- Assisted Self-Preparation—free online tax prep on your own or with help:Assisted Self-Preparation allows filers to complete their tax return online on their own and an IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer will be available by phone or email to answer questions. Filers will need access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone; a stable internet connection; an email address, and their 2019 adjusted gross income (AGI) or self-select PIN.
- Drop-off Service—drop off your documents and pick up your completed return later:At a drop-off service, filers can drop off their tax documents and pick up the completed return later. Filers must follow New York State health guidelines, including wearing a mask and practicing social distancing and sites may conduct screenings or have additional requirements.
- In-Person Tax Prep—sit down with a volunteer preparer: At in-person tax prep sites, which are limited this year, knowledgeable IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparers help filers complete an accurate tax return. Filers must follow New York State health guidelines, including wearing a mask and social distancing appropriately during visit. In addition, organizations may conduct screenings or have additional requirements
New Yorkers can call 311 or visit nyc.gov/taxprep
to choose the best filing option for them. A checklist
of what documents New Yorkers need to bring with them to file and multilingual
information about the services are available at nyc.gov/taxprep
. Services are available in English, Spanish, French, Haitian-Creole, Russian, Arabic, and others to come. The deadline to file 2020 tax returns is April 15, 2021. Visit nyc.gov/taxprep
to stay up to date and join the #FreeTaxPrep conversation on @NYCDCA’s social media channels.
Economic Impact Payments
Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, eligible individuals and families will receive a second round of Economic Impact Payments (stimulus checks) by direct deposit or mail. The second payments are up to $600 for single filers and $1,200 for married couples filing jointly plus an additional $600 for each dependent child under age 17. Unlike the first stimulus payment, married couples who file their taxes jointly are now eligible for a single $600 second-round payment even if only one spouse has a Social Security number valid for employment. Each child with a Social Security number is also eligible for a $600 per-child second-round payment. No action is required by most eligible recipients. You can check your stimulus payment status via IRS at irs.gov/eip
If you did not receive a first or second stimulus payment and think you may be eligible, or did not receive the full payment amount, you may be eligible to obtain a stimulus payment by claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit
when you file your 2020 federal tax return.
NYC Free Tax Prep can help you file and claim your stimulus payment
(s) for free. It is strongly encouraged to have a bank account in order to receive your payment safely and quickly. DCWP also has information about NYC SafeStart and other bank or credit account options
Due to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act passed in 2015, the IRS must hold refunds for filers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until at least February 15 each year. For the 2021 tax season, refunds could be delayed until the first week of March 2021. This law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund – even the part not coming from the EITC or ACTC.
EITC is one of the largest poverty reduction programs in the U.S. and is a federal, state and New York City tax credit for qualifying families, non-custodial parents (NYS EITC only), and single individuals who work full time or part time or are self-employed. Single and married people are eligible if they worked full or part time at some point during 2020 and earned less than $15,820 (for single persons with no dependents) and up to $56,844 (for married couples with three or more dependents). Some non-custodial parents may also be eligible. The federal, state, and City EITC can be combined to be worth up to $8,991.
The NYC Child Care Tax Credit (NYC CCTC) is a tax benefit to help families pay for child care. Parents and guardians who earn $30,000 or less and pay for child care for children age 4 or younger may be eligible. This local tax credit is worth up to $1,733.
Consumers using a paid preparer should ask the preparer for a Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers
(also available in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu) and read it thoroughly before having their taxes prepared, and also get DCWP’s Tips Regarding Tax Preparers
. Consumers should also be on alert for preparers that overcharge, charge hidden fees, or file their return without permission.
“BronxWorks is proud to once again provide free tax preparation assistance to the communities of the Bronx. We are pleased to participate in the EITC Awareness Day to help promote the importance of the credit to our constituents, many of whom are low- to low-middle income families. By completing their taxes, many may qualify for a substantial credit. Offering tax preparation services is another way for BronxWorks to share how we may assist our Bronx neighbors and live our mission,” said Eileen Torres, Executive Director, BronxWorks, Inc.
“Center for Family Life in Sunset Park is thrilled to provide NYC Free Tax Prep to our neighborhood families. The free tax filing program is a critical component of our portfolio of services, and is highly sought after by literally thousands of families in our neighborhood. We are deeply grateful to the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for this wonderful opportunity to serve,” said Julia J. Francois, Co-Director at Center for Family Life
“Now entering our fifth year, the DCWP Free Tax Prep program has allowed Chhaya to take our financial stability programs to a whole new level of impact. We have served over 2,400 low-income households and families, bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars in refunds to the historically underserved South Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities. With the COVID crisis impacting low to moderate income New Yorkers especially hard, the need for the free tax prep program has never been greater. We look forward to serving our community by providing virtual and drop-off tax services in two high-need Queens neighborhoods: Jackson Heights, and Richmond Hill,” said Annetta Seecharran, Executive Director of Chhaya CDC.
“We are grateful to run a free tax prep program because it helps put real dollars in the pockets of our constituents. In addition, our clients come to us for almost every legal assistance and free tax prep is the added value that ties it all together,” said Louis Welz, CEO of COJO Flatbush.
“EITC is one of the most powerful economic mobility tools available to low- and moderate- income households. Single Stop is proud to deliver free services through our NYC Free Tax Prep program, providing hardworking New Yorkers with a high-quality, no-cost way to file taxes. Through VITA and EITC, New Yorkers avoid costly fees and access critical financial resources they depend on for their family’s financial stability throughout the year,” said Allison Byrne, National Director of Operations, Single Stop.
“For years, hard-working New York families have fulfilled their tax filing responsibilities using NYC Free Tax Prep. This crucial service, along with many people and small businesses, was tested last year with widespread closures across the city due to the pandemic. At the time Grow Brooklyn was able to create a virtual program to help the remaining tax-prep appointment-holders remotely using an arsenal of secure web-based tools to successfully finish off last tax season and help taxpayers get sorely-needed stimulus checks,” said Samira Rajan, Executive Director, Grow Brooklyn.
“NMIC is proud to partner with DCWP, Robin Hood and New York Cares to provide access to safe, effective, free tax preparation. In coordination with our partners, NMIC will offer different methods to access our tax services, including fully remote options. Access to this crucial assistance is particularly important this year as community members will be relying on their refunds to avoid losing their homes or going hungry,” said Maria Lizardo, LMSW, Executive Director.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a deep financial burden for many New York City households. As an NYC Free Tax Prep provider, Project Hospitality is dedicated to ensuring that low-income Staten Islanders are receiving their full refund and all tax credits they are eligible for. Our caring intake staff and tax preparers are here to help our free tax prep clients to access any other social service assistance they may need as we weather this pandemic together,” said Rev. Terry Troia, President and CEO of Project Hospitality.
NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCWP licenses more than 59,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCWP protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCWP empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCWP also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCWP and its work, call 311 or visit DCWP at nyc.gov/dcwp or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Abigail Lootens | Melissa Barosy
Department of Consumer and Worker Protection