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Food Bank For New York City Kicks Off 2011 Tax Season... Urges New Yorkers to Use Free Tax Prep Sites & File for Earned Income Tax Credit
Low-Wage Workers Who Don’t File Could Be Losing Out on Thousand of Dollars in Tax Refunds
Call 311, visit www.foodbanknyc.org to access list of free service sites, determine EITC eligibility
New York, NY, January 27, 2011 — At a time when 3 million New Yorkers are struggling to put food on the table, the Food Bank For New York City is urging low-income, working New Yorkers to use one of their 15 free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites throughout the five boroughs and potentially receive thousands back in refunds through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) benefit. Low-income working New Yorkers may be eligible to receive a tax refund of up to $7,649 - but they must file a return!
The EITC benefit is especially vital this year. According to Less Food on the Table, the Food Bank's 2010 edition of the NYC Hunger Experience report — an annual opinion poll conducted in collaboration with Marist College of Public Opinion — the recession has depleted the savings of the lowest-income New Yorkers, leaving them even more vulnerable to food poverty. In addition, NYC residents are making significant sacrifices such as reducing their food intake and the quality of their food to get by financially.
The EITC is a financial boost for working people hit by hard economic times. However, according to the IRS, one in five eligible taxpayers, who is eligible for EITC, does not claim it simply because they are unaware that they are entitled to it. Often, these are workers whose incomes are below the requirement to even file a tax return, a requirement to get the Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC is available for families with children who have a 2010 income up to $48,362; single filers with children whose income is up to $43,279, and most single filers (without children) making less than $18,000. Free tax preparation is also offered to self-employed taxi drivers and childcare providers.
“New Yorkers could be missing out on thousands of dollars in tax refunds – money that lower income working people could use to pay bills, purchase food for their families, and start saving for their futures,” said Lucy Cabrera, Ph.D., President & CEO of the Food Bank For New York City. “Last year, the average tax refund was $2,700. This isn’t just free money and it's not a handout. It is money that has been earned, and we want to make sure working individuals receive every penny of it.”
The Food Bank offers taxpayers two IRS programs for preparing their returns for free. An IRS-trained Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteer or Food Bank staff member prepares the tax return or, the taxpayer prepares the federal, state and city returns for free on his/her own using brand-name commercial software available through the IRS and New York State Free File Alliances with coaching from tax experts and trained volunteers.
Be prepared - What You Need to Bring
• A photo ID for you and your spouse (if filing a joint return)
• If you are filing a joint return, both you and your spouse must be present
• Social Security cards (or copies) or ITIN (or copies) for you and anyone you are claiming on your tax return, or a letter from the Social Security Administration (copies of past-year tax return are not accepted as proof of SSN)
• W-2s for all jobs you held in 2010 and all 1099 forms paid in cash or personal checks), you must know the total amount of money you made for the year and your deductible expenses
• Form 1098-T, if you paid tuition for post-high school education
• If you are claiming childcare expenses, the amount you paid and childcare agency's ID, or the name and Social Security number of the childcare provider
• A sample check or a bank statement with the routing and account number, if you have a savings account for direct deposit
• Any other tax-related information you received
The EITC program is the largest poverty-reduction program in the nation. Today, the IRS recognizes the Food Bank For New York City as one the largest coordinator of civilian tax assistance in the country. Last tax season, the Food Bank served 30,000 tax filers, returning over $61 million in refunds, including more than $28.8 million in federal EITC. Every $1 spent on this program brought back over $33 in refunds for low-income New Yorkers and not a cent of their refunds is lost to predatory refund anticipation loans.
Since the Food Bank’s program launch in 2002 in New York City, it has prepared 271,200 tax returns and low income New Yorkers have received $537.5 million in tax refunds. In addition, the Food Bank's Tax Assistance Program helps move New Yorkers toward greater economic self-sufficiency by providing eligible households with access to food stamps, bank accounts, public health insurance information and SaveUSA accounts — a saving incentive program offered in limited locations in New York City.
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for lower-income working individuals and families is a key piece of the public safety net that can significantly lower, or even eliminate, the tax you owe.
To find out if you qualify for the Food Bank's services, contact Ileana Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Food Bank is urging New Yorkers to file a tax return today! To access a list of free service sites, go to www.foodbanknyc.org or call 311.
About the Food Bank For New York City: Food Bank For New York City recognizes 28 years as the city’s major hunger-relief organization working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs. As the city’s hub for integrated food poverty assistance, the Food Bank tackles the hunger issue on three fronts — food distribution, income support and nutrition education — all strategically guided by its research. Through its network of approximately 1,000 community-based member programs citywide, the Food Bank helps provide 400,000 free meals a day for New Yorkers in need. The Food Bank’s hands-on nutrition education program in the public schools reaches thousands of children, teens and adults. Income support services including food stamps, free tax assistance for the working poor and the Earned Income Tax Credit put millions of dollars back in the pockets of low-income New Yorkers, helping them to achieve greater dignity and independence. Learn how you can help at foodbanknyc.org.