NEW YORK—Mayor Michael Bloomberg, together with other city officials and leaders of not-for-profit organizations, announced the start of the ninth annual Tax Credit Campaign at a press conference on Wednesday. The event was held at the Capitol One branch on Fulton Street in Brooklyn.
The program will allow eligible New Yorkers to file their tax returns for free or at low cost. According to the mayor, the campaign helped over 72,000 New Yorkers to file taxes for free and to receive $117 million in tax credits and refunds last year.
“Once again this year we are relying on community partners to maintain the tax assistance sites, and on certified volunteers,” said the mayor. The project is carried out by the Food Bank for New York and Ariva, a New York-based organization that assists low-income families with financial services.
Since 2002, when the campaign was first launched, New Yorkers have collected more than $700 million in tax credits and refunds, Bloomberg reported.
“At a time when 3 million New Yorkers are struggling to put food on the table, making sure they get all the tax refunds and credits they are entitled to cannot be more important. That is money that families can use to pay bills, purchase food, and start saving for the future. This is money that had been earned, and we want to make sure they get every penny of it,” said Carlos Rodriguez, vice president for agency relations at the Food Bank for New York.
There are several options for New Yorkers to get assistance in filing their taxes, depending on their income level. Those who earn less than $57,000 can file their taxes for free on www.nyc.gov. New Yorkers who earn less than $48,000 can visit one of 19 centers across the city, where they can file their taxes online with assistance.
New Yorkers with children who earn less than $50,000, or New Yorkers without children who earn less than $18,000 can visit one of the 62 Volunteer Tax Preparation Assistance sites.
Another option for those who earn less than $41,000 with children, or less than $31,000 without children, is to go to an H&R Block location and file taxes for $29, using a coupon issued by the city.
The mayor also announced transformation of SaveNYC into SaveUSA, after three other cities have adopted the program, which was created to encourage people to save their tax refunds.
SaveNYC was developed by the Department of Consumer Affairs and launched in 2008. Since then, the program has attracted 2,200 savers, some of whom did not previously have bank accounts.
The SaveUSA program provides incentives to save by matching 50 cents for each dollar participants deposit for a year from their tax refunds. New Yorkers will be able to register for the SaveUSA program while seeking help at the tax assistance site. The matching funds are provided by private donors.
Participating in the SaveUSA program provides people with an opportunity to increase their savings, said Jonathan Mintz, commissioner for consumer affairs.
Diana Breen, deputy director of Ariva, gave an example of the success of the SaveNYC program. She described one of her clients in the South Bronx, who is in her early 20s and financially supports both her boyfriend and their two children while being five months pregnant. Through the program, she agreed to put aside $500 for a year and is now expected to receive an additional $250. “It is a substantial amount for her,” Breen said.