FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
: February 15, 2017 CONTACT
NYCHA HELPING RESIDENTS GET EVERY DOLLAR THEY’VE EARNED IN TAX REFUNDS THIS YEAR BY DOUBLING THE NUMBER OF FREE NYCHA TAX PREP SITES
The Authority is teaming up with The Fund for Public Housing, DYCD, Food Bank For New York City and Citi Community Development to expand Free Tax Prep Services for NYCHA Residents
Expanded virtual services will provide more eligible residents with a safe, convenient way to get access to the Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax refunds, without paying unnecessary fees
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the Fund for Public Housing, the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), Food Bank For New York City, and Citi Community Development announced today the expansion of free tax preparation services that will ensure NYCHA residents receive all tax refunds to which they are entitled.
There are 22 NYCHA locations across the city where residents earning less than $54,000 a year can file state and federal taxes for free with trusted, IRS-certified tax preparers – double the number of locations available last year due to support from Citi Community Development and the Fund for Public Housing. Since 2002, the Food Bank For New York City has provided free tax services for low and moderate-income New Yorkers. In 2014, they began administering free tax preparation locations as part of the national IRS Virtual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Tax filers using the Virtual VITA filing service complete an intake form at a tax preparation site and submit their tax documents electronically and securely to a qualified Food Bank tax preparer. The process takes no more than 30 minutes, allowing the tax filer to leave the site and come back once the tax return is complete and ready to be submitted to the IRS.
“Last year, more than 1400 low income New Yorkers received over $2 million dollars in tax refunds by using NYCHA’s Virtual VITA sites,” said Shola Olatoye, Chair and CEO of NYCHA.
“This year with twice as many sites operating, we can substantially increase the number of families who will benefit from this free service thanks to the Fund for Public Housing and our partners."
“Connecting NYCHA families to free tax preparation services will ensure they receive 100 percent of the tax refund they are entitled to,” said Rasmia Kirmani-Frye, President of Fund for Public Housing.
“Thanks to the generosity of Citi Community Development, and in partnership with the Food Bank, we’re able to double the number of Virtual VITA sites in public housing communities.”
“The Virtual VITA Tax preparation services helps hard working New Yorkers towards financial empowerment by identifying tax credits they are eligible for to maximize return refunds and bring critical dollars back to the communities in need,” said DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong.
“We are proud to be a partner to help NYCHA families access free, high-quality tax preparation at participating DYCD Cornerstone Community Centers.”
“Tax season is an expensive and stressful time for many. We are proud to collaborate with the City and Food Bank For New York City to expand access for NYCHA residents to free, high-quality tax preparation sites, which utilize technology to connect more New Yorkers to important tax credits and protect them from predatory services,” said Eileen Auld, New York Tri State Market Director, Citi Community Development.
“Providing these services to hard-working low- and moderate-income families enables a more inclusive city.”
“Virtual VITA is an efficient, secure and convenient way for NYCHA residents to receive all of their tax refunds and credits – for free,” said Brady Koch, Chief Programs Officer for Food Bank For New York City.
“The opportunity to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) provides working families with significant funds they can use to save, plan, pay off bills and put food on the table. Food Bank is proud to have innovated this service, which puts dollars back into people’s pockets and into communities. We are especially proud of the committed partnerships that have made Virtual VITA available to so many working New Yorkers.”
In the 2016 tax season, low-income New Yorkers received more than $2 million in refunds from the more than 1,400 tax returns filed using NYCHA Virtual VITA sites. This year, with an investment from the Fund for Public Housing, the Food Bank has been able to expand the Virtual VITA program to reach more NYCHA residents.
“Virtual VITA Tax preparation services gives residents an opportunity to do their taxes in an environment where they don’t have to worry about being taken advantage of,” said Stapleton Houses Resident, Jason Headley.
“Plus it’s free.”
“Virtual VITA tax preparation services helps NYCHA residents and other low income New Yorkers get the tax return they have earned,” said Saint Mary’s Houses Resident Esther Figueroa.
“The tax preparers are very courteous and professional and I believe all of my fellow residents should take advantage of this free service.”
“Far too often, working families are taken advantage of by unscrupulous tax preparers who promise big refunds and quick money while piling on fees and fraud. That is why the VITA program is so important,” said Congressman Jose Serrano.
“It provides working families with free, unbiased tax preparation services. It is also the reason why I made it a priority in 2007 creating a dedicated program to allocate more federal funding for VITA Tax Clinics free tax prep services. Thanks partly to this effort, NYCHA, in a joint effort with numerous non-profit partners, has been able to expand its services and double the amount of clinics in the city, including seven new locations in the South Bronx. Bronxites will now be able to access the help they need to complete their taxes quickly and receive the refunds they deserve. I encourage all eligible constituents to find the nearest site and take advantage of this great service.”
“Most of us need help filing our taxes, which is why the Virtual VITA tax prep service is a great resource for NYCHA residents,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr.
“I know I’ll be working in my district to let NYCHA residents know that this resource is available, and more importantly, free.”
“This is an excellent opportunity for the residents of NYCHA who earn less than $54,000 a year the ability to have free tax preparation by certified IRS tax preparers,” said Council Member Darlene Mealy.
“Thank you to NYCHA, Fund for Public Housing, DYCD, Food Bank For New York City and Citi Community Development.”
“This expansion of tax preparation resources will greatly alleviate the stress and confusion that comes with every tax season,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.
“I applaud NYCHA’s commitment to providing residents the services they need to keep their financial house in order.”
"Tax season is here, and it is sometimes one of the most daunting tasks individuals face early in the year," said State Senator Diane Savino.
"I'm thrilled to see the expansion of the VITA program locally to ensure residents receive free service from qualified professionals."
For a listing of NYCHA sites offering free tax preparation, visit www.OpportunityNYCHA.org/taxprep
or call the REES Hotline: (718) 289-8100. ###
About New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA):
The New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) mission is to increase opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers by providing safe, affordable housing and facilitating access to social and community services. To that end, NYCHA administers a Conventional Public Housing Program as well as a citywide Section 8 Leased Housing Program in rental apartments, together serving more than 600,000 New Yorkers. Learn more at www.nyc.gov/nycha and on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, @NYCHA.
About Fund for Public Housing:
The Fund for Public Housing invests in the well-being of NYCHA residents. It collaborates with public and private entities to improve the way public housing in New York City works. The Fund focuses on three main areas of investment - People, Place, and Work - all to benefit public housing residents and their communities.
About Department of New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD):
The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) invests in a network of community-based organizations and programs to alleviate the effects of poverty and to provide opportunities for New Yorkers and communities to flourish. DYCD strives to improve the quality of life of New Yorkers by collaborating with local organizations and investing in the talents and assets of our communities to help them develop, grow and thrive.
About Food Bank For New York City
Food Bank For New York City has been the city’s major hunger-relief organization working to end hunger throughout the five boroughs for more than 30 years. Nearly one in five New Yorkers relies on Food Bank for food and other resources. Food Bank takes a strategic, multifaceted approach that provides meals and builds capacity in the neediest communities, while raising awareness and engagement among all New Yorkers. Through its network of more than 1,000 charities and schools citywide, Food Bank provides food for more than 64 million free meals for New Yorkers in need. Food Bank For New York City’s income support services, including food stamps (also known as SNAP) and free tax assistance for the working poor, put more than $150 million each year into the pockets of New Yorkers, helping them to afford food and achieve greater dignity and independence. In addition, Food Bank’s nutrition education programs and services empower more than 44,000 children, teens and adults to sustain a healthy diet on a low budget. To learn more about how you can help, please visit foodbanknyc.org. Follow us on Facebook (FoodBank4NYC), Twitter (@FoodBank4NYC), and Instagram (FoodBank4NYC).
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management. Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://blog.citigroup.com |
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