2011-02-10 / From The Mayor...

FROM THE MAYOR’S DESK...

Providing Tax Credits For Hard-Working New Yorkers

Tax season is here — and for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, that means that it’s time to reclaim money that they’ve already worked hard for: their Earned Income Tax Credits, or EITCs. The city, state, and federal governments have created EITCs to help hardworking families make their way up the economic ladder. It’s money they’ve earned, and money they’re entitled to. We want to make sure they get it back — and today, I want to talk about a few of the innovative ways we are doing that.

This year, we’re resuming a program that we launched in 2007 that has helped thousands of New Yorkers claim their EITCs. Many who are eligible for them don’t claim them – often because they don’t know about them. So in the next few weeks, we’re going to mail out some 7,000 amended returns to them. All they’ll need to do is sign them, mail them in, and stand by to collect $5.7 million in EITCs they’ve already earned.

Then there’s what in past years we’ve called “SaveNYC.” It’s a program that’s allowed some EITC filers to put aside a portion of their refunds in special savings accounts, where they’re matched 50 cents to the dollar using private funds raised by the City. Save NYC has helped many New Yorkers build up their savings for when they really need them. And that’s why the Obama administration, with our help, is now replicating the effort in three other cities – and rechristening the program “Save USA.”

We’re also partnering with H&R Block to offer low-cost help in filing returns. Typically, the tax prep giant charges upwards of hundreds of dollars for its services. But if you have children and made less than $41,000 last year, or have no children and made less than $31,000, then you qualify for a great discount: Just $29. All you’ll need to do is print a coupon from the City’s website at nyc.gov, and bring it to a participating H&R Block site. It’s that simple.

And there are even better deals to be had. Some qualifying residents won’t have to spend a dime if they use the City’s free tax-prep website at nyc.gov. Others can get free assistance from nearly 20 tax assistance and preparation sites that we’ve set up around the city and that are staffed by volunteers recruited through NYC Service. Just call 311 or visit nyc.gov to find the location closest to you.

Now, not everyone is eligible for the programs I’ve mentioned. But make no mistake: We all benefit from them. The EITC alone puts more than $2 billion back in the hands of New Yorkers. That money then ripples through our local economy, supporting neighborhood businesses and jobs. That’s reason enough to make sure all New Yorker get the refunds they’ve already worked for.

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