The City’s free tax filing options:
“My experience was so helpful because I didn’t know about the VITA site and all the services available for you there, like applying for health insurance and preparing your taxes for free,” said Irene from Queens. I encourage everyone to go there and I’ve even been telling everyone I know to prepare their taxes at the VITA site.”
The City’s Annual Tax Credit Campaign increases awareness about tax credits that put money back in the pockets of working New Yorkers, and help qualifying New Yorkers file their taxes for free. EITC, one of the largest poverty reduction program 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. During the 2012 tax season, approximately 30 million U.S. families claimed the EITC totaling more than $60 billion. For working families in New York City, EITC claims average $2,500 and can be worth as much as $8,293. 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 New York City Child Care Tax Credit (NYC CCTC). Combined, these credits can total almost $10,000.
With an investment of $3 million in private and public funding, the City’s 13th Annual Tax Credit Campaign is not only the largest in City history but represents an almost 20-fold increase in spending, reflecting the Administration’s commitment to delivering essential services to New Yorkers with low and moderate incomes and helping them improve their financial stability. Citi Community Development, a long-time partner of DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment, donated $250,000, which directly helped DCA to support its community-based tax partners in increasing capacity to meet anticipated high demand driven by widespread advertising.
New Yorkers visiting one of five designated VITA sites have the opportunity to participate in the SaveUSA Program, an incentivized tax-time savings program that gives participants the opportunity to receive a 50 percent match, up to $500, if they deposit at least $200 of their tax refund into a SaveUSA account and maintain the initial deposit for one year. There is no penalty for withdrawing refund deposits before the end of the year but those who do become ineligible for matching funds. Accounts are available while funds last. Visit nyc.gov/taxprep or call 311 to find a SaveUSA VITA site.
DCA also encourages filers to use direct deposit, which will allow them to receive their federal tax refund within 21 business days. Anyone who needs a safe, affordable bank account should sign up for NYC SafeStart. The account has no overdraft fees and no monthly fees if you maintain a minimum balance of $25 or even less depending on the financial institution. For more information, visit nyc.gov/SafeStart.
DCA’s public awareness campaign, which will run through April, asks New Yorkers what they will do with their refund and encourage everyone who files to share their story on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, using the hashtag #GotMyRefund. DCA also has a Short Messaging Service (SMS) texting campaign, which will play a crucial part in fulfilling the campaign’s engagement goals. Anyone can subscribe to the service by texting “Refund” to 97779.
DCA also inspects paid tax preparers and, so far this tax season, has inspected nearly 600 tax preparers inspected, and found one in four were in violation of the New York City Consumer Protection Law. Violations included failing to post qualifications, fees, and disclosures in all languages in which the preparer advertises, for failing to inform consumers that every return filed must be signed, and for not providing consumers with a copy of New York City’s Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers or an itemized receipt. New Yorkers can get tips for using a paid tax preparer at nyc.gov/taxprep. DCA has conducted two industry trainings to educate preparers about their responsibilities and also made available an inspection checklist of what inspectors look for during an inspection and templates for signage at nyc.gov/BusinessToolbox.
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.