NEW YORK, NY—Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Julie Menin today kicked off the tax season with the launch of the agency's annual tax credit campaign. The campaign, timed to coincide with the first day the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accepts returns, features new advertisements and reflects the City's continued commitment to enable New Yorkers who earn $62,000 or less to file their taxes for free using the City's tax preparation services.
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 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. In addition to its direct support for the tax preparation sites, the City has unified more than a dozen free tax preparation partners under a new "NYC Free Tax Prep" brand identity. This year, for the first time, DCA is partnering with employers to enable them to serve as a drop-off site for their employees, making tax preparation even more convenient.
"Last year we helped New Yorkers file more than 150,000 returns for free and claim refund-boosting tax credits that can be pivotal in helping them pay bills, get out of debt and save for their future," said DCA Commissioner Julie Menin. "This year, we are committed to helping connect even more New Yorkers with our trusted and professional free tax prep services because working New Yorkers deserve to get every penny of their hard-earned refund."
"With so many NYC residents eligible for the EITC in New York, the need to ensure that they can access these valuable credits through free, high-quality tax preparation services is still great," 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."
In 2015, DCA launched an expanded public awareness and education campaign to inform New Yorkers of the City's free tax preparation options and important tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the NYC Child Care Tax Credit (NYC CCTC). This resulted in an estimated 50 percent increase in New Yorkers who used 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. This year, with a return investment of more than $3 million in public, as well as private funding from Citi Community Development, the City's 14th Annual Tax Credit Campaign directly supports its community-based tax partners and promotes the services to eligible New Yorkers.
The brand identity and employer partnership program are among the initial recommendations from the Designing for Financial Empowerment initiative—a collaborative effort between DCA, Citi Community Development, the Parsons Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability (DESIS) Lab, and the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City that used a human-centered design approach to making free tax preparation services more accessible and effective.
Recognizing the anxiety that many people feel when preparing their taxes, this year's advertising campaign uses a humorous approach and encourages New Yorkers to reduce their stress by getting free filing assistance through the City's trusted and professional services. The new advertisements are running in the City's subway cars, stations, bus shelters, and telephone kiosks, as well as in print and on radio. DCA is also doing a targeted mailing to more than 330,000 EITC-eligible New Yorkers and using a call center to directly contact 170,000 EITC-eligible New Yorkers with the nearest free tax preparation site. Additionally, the City's tax season partners are also distributing approximately 585,000 informational brochures in multiple languages to their networks of potentially eligible filers. 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.
Free Tax Preparation
The City's Annual Tax Credit Campaign increases awareness about tax credits that put money back in the pockets of working New Yorkers, and helps qualifying New Yorkers file their taxes online for free. EITC, one of the largest poverty reduction programs in the U.S., is a federal, state and New York 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 $2,400 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 credits can total more than $10,000.
The City's free tax filing options:
Filers should bring all relevant documents to file at participating sites.
For more information about free tax prep and DCA's campaign, visit nyc.gov/taxprep or call 311. You can also join the #FreeTaxPrep conversation on @NYCDCA's social media channels.
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.