2011-03-25 / Top Stories

City Sets Free Tax Preparation Program

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz and Department of Finance Commissioner David M. Frankel have launched a new city-sponsored discount tax preparation program with H&R Block as part of New York City’s 9th Annual Tax Credit Campaign, which offers New Yorkers more ways than ever to file their taxes and claim their tax refunds for free or at very low cost. Last year’s Tax Credit Campaign helped over 72,000 New Yorkers file their taxes for free and claim more than $117 million in tax credits and refunds.

The Finance Department will also continue its groundbreaking effort to ensure New Yorkers receive the Earned Income Tax Credits to which they are entitled. This week, Finance will send out more than 7,000 amended tax returns to New Yorkers worth $5.7 million in Earned Income Tax Credits. The Mayor also announced the launch of SaveUSA, an expansion of the City’s successful tax-time saving program SaveNYC. SaveUSA is one of five Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) programs to be replicated in cities nationwide through a federal Social Innovation Fund grant awarded to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the Center for Economic Opportunity. The Mayor was also joined by the City’s Chief Service Officer Diahann Billings-Burford, Center for Economic Opportunity Executive Director Veronica M. White, Food Bank of New York City President and CEO Lucy Cabrera and Ariva Deputy Director Diana Breen.

“This year, we’re making it easier than ever for New Yorkers to file for tax refunds and receive money they’ve already earned,” said Bloomberg. “Since 2002, our City’s network of free and low-cost tax preparation options has helped New Yorkers collect more than $700 million in tax credits and refunds and it has provided savings tools for those struggling to put their financial lives on solid ground.”

“For many New Yorkers, their tax refund is the single biggest check that they will receive all year,” said Mintz. “With more ways than ever to file your taxes for free or at very low cost, we are encouraging all New Yorkers to file soon and claim every dollar of tax credits that you are due. Visit nyc.gov/taxprep and go get your refund!”

“Not only does this program help put money back in the pockets of hard-working low income New Yorkers, but it puts Federal and State money back into New York City’s economy,” said Frankel. “Tax and revenue agencies don’t often get the chance to administer a program where we tell people what we may owe them,

and we are incredibly excited to continue this groundbreaking effort.”

Free or Low Cost Tax Preparation

The City’s Annual Tax Credit Campaign, which increases awareness about tax credits that can put money back in the pockets of working New Yorkers, will help qualifying New Yorkers file their taxes online for free, visit a free tax assistance site, or get their taxes done at participating H & R Block locations for just $29 using a new City-sponsored coupon. With all of these options, New Yorkers can find out if they qualify for important tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the New York City Child Care Tax Credit. These offerings will not include Refund Anticipation Loans or other loans.

New Yorkers who earn less than $50,000 with children or $18,000 for those who do not have children can visit a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site in the five boroughs where a certified volunteer will prepare their taxes for free. New Yorkers can also have their tax returns prepared at a participating H&R Block office with a new City-sponsored coupon for just $29. To qualify for the H&R Block discount, residents must earn less than $41,000 with children or $31,000 if they have no children. Those interested should visit the City’s website www.nyc.gov to print out the coupon. New Yorkers who qualify for H&R Block discount tax preparation in 2011 will receive the same $29 offer next year if they are eligible.

New Yorkers earning less than $57,000 can also file their taxes online for free through the City’s free tax-prep website on www.nyc.gov. New Yorkers earning less than $48,000 can visit 19 participating sites where they can prepare their taxes for free online with assistance from trained guides. A list of participating sites is available on the City’s website.

Last year, the program engaged 655 volunteers in tax assistance, who helped prepare 20,000 tax returns for an estimated $86,852,425 in returns for New Yorkers. This year, NYC Service and the Department of Consumer Affairs, along with the Food Bank for New York City and New York Cares, aim to engage 700 volunteers for tax prep assistance.

“If you are looking for a way to have a real and direct impact on New Yorkers in need, volunteering to provide tax filing assistance is a great way to give back,” said Billings-Burford. “NYC Service aims to target volunteers to where they can make a measurable difference and we expect the free tax preparation program to have an even greater impact this year.”

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