2008-02-22 / Community

Rockaway Residents Get Free Tax Prep Assistance

Tax season has arrived, and to help Rockaway residents get ready, Peter H. Kostmayer, president of Citizens Committee for New York City, unveiled Cash Back 2008 - an annual initiative designed to help hundreds of first-time filers and other low income earners in the Rockaways take advantage of tax credits and free tax preparation.

Citizens Committee, in partnership with the Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation - a local grass roots organization that received special funding from Citizens Committee to participate in the initiative - is helping first-time filers and other eligible Rockaway residents take advantage of important tax credits that will put hard-earned dollars back in their pockets. In addition, specially trained individuals will also screen and enroll eligible residents for food stamps and health insurance, including Medicaid.

Citizens Committee has set up a Cash Back Hotline - 212-822-9584 - where residents can call to find out how to get help in their neighborhoods. Assistance is available in multiple languages.

"So many hard working Rockaway residents don't realize that they are eligible to receive larger refunds, and as a consequence, don't claim money that is rightfully theirs," said Mr. Kostmayer. "With Cash Back we are working to put that money back in their pockets."

"Through this anti-poverty initiative, free help is available to every low income worker and family," Kostmayer continued. "We will give you the tools to claim back money that is part of your earned income. We can also help you manage this money through financial education workshops, and help those who are eligible enroll in public benefits like food stamps."

Kostmayer added that low-income families, part-time workers, cash workers, immigrants, refugees and mature students are welcome to participate in the program. Among the programs they may be eligible for are: Earned Income Tax Credit; Child and Dependent Care Credit; Education Credits; and Savers Tax Credit. In addition to these credits, Citizens Committee will help filers take advantage of a brand new tax credit called the New York City Child Care Tax Credit, designed to assist low-income New Yorkers with children under the age of four.

Kostmayer cited a compelling Cash Back success story: A non-English speaking immigrant and domestic abuse survivor, who is a mother of two teenagers and a first-time tax-filer filed her returns for the years 2003, 2004 and 2005. With the help of the Cash Back program she received almost $7,000 in tax refund.

Citizens Committee for New York City's Cash Back program is made possible thanks to a grant from the Robin Hood Foundation.

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