Mayor Bloomberg Announces More Than 50,000 New Yorkers Claimed City Child Care Tax Credits Totaling More Than $30 Million in the Program's First Year
Mayor Urges Eligible New Yorkers to Participate This Tax Season
City Residents Can Call 311 to Locate Free and Low-cost Tax Preparation Services and File for Refund-Boosting Credits
New York—March 9, 2009 - Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that in its inaugural year, more than 50,000 New Yorkers claimed the City’s Child Care Tax Credit, one of the first municipal child care tax credits in the nation. The Child Care Tax Credit which is designed to help more families afford child care and help more parents work full-time, is just one of many successful innovations under the Center for Economic Opportunity which oversees the City’s ambitious anti-poverty strategy. In 2008, New York City Child Care Tax Credit filers received more than $30 million with an average refund of $600. The Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) Office of Financial Empowerment leads the Mayor’s annual Tax Credit Campaign. The Mayor urged working families to call 311 to learn whether they qualify for tax credits like the Child Care Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as to locate free or low-cost tax preparation sites. The city’s Child Care Tax Credit awareness and access efforts are part of an array of initiatives that the Administration has quickly expanded to help New Yorkers make the most of the money they have earned and to help them weather the economic downturn. City residents who earn $30,000 or less and pay child care expenses for children age three and under may qualify for this local tax credit of up to $1,733. The Mayor was joined by Center for Economic Opportunity Executive Director Veronica White; Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz; and Food Bank for New York City President & CEO Dr. Lucy Cabrera at the St. Mark’s A.M.E. Church in Jackson Heights, Queens, an emergency food program which hosts one of 12 of the City’s Tax Prep Plus sites where eligible New York City residents can have their tax returns professionally prepared by a Tax One professional for only $20.
“Our Child Care Tax Credit is a successful program that is part of our larger anti-poverty strategy,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Coupled with the Earned Income Tax Credit, the refund can be significant and help move hard-working New Yorkers up the economic ladder. Particularly during these tough economic times, all eligible families should be sure to apply so they can receive the money they deserve.”
“This credit helps relieve some of the pressure on low-income families,” said CEO Executive Director Veronica White. “The Center for Economic Opportunity has become a national leader in developing innovative poverty-fighting programs and we are thrilled that so many New Yorkers received the credit last year, and hope that many more will apply this year.”
“The City is pulling out all the stops to make sure New Yorkers know about and claim every tax credit they have coming to them,” said Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz. “There’s only about one month left to go get Child Care Tax Credits, Earned Income Tax Credits, and more. Call 311 and ask if you qualify and where to get your taxes done for free or very low cost.”
“The Child Care Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit programs are bright spots in this dark economy,” said Food Bank for New York City President & CEO Dr. Lucy Cabrera. “By providing much-needed cash to those individuals and families who are working hard and still struggling to make ends meet, the stimulus effect is immediate and local. And in the midst of layoffs and record unemployment, the Food Bank is providing hundreds of volunteers with marketable job skills, as every trained volunteer will become an IRS-certified tax preparer.”
This year, as a safe and affordable alternative to professional tax preparation services, the City expanded its Tax Prep Plus program to offer professionally-prepared tax returns by a Tax One professional for only $20 at 12 community-based organizations throughout the five boroughs. Families earning less than $55,000 and individuals earning less than $30,000 qualify. Tax Prep Plus sites will not offer refund anticipation loans and other predatory products to their customers, ensuring that consumers get every penny of their refund.
New York City residents with dependents and who earn less than $45,000, as well as individuals who earn less than $20,000, are also eligible for free income tax preparation at one of the city’s 54 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. Volunteers at the VITA sites will help residents file for the tax credits for which they qualify including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the New York City Child Care Tax Credit. In 2007, New Yorkers claimed approximately $2.14 billion in total earned income tax credits. VITA sites helped more than 82,000 New Yorkers obtain an average Earned Income Tax Credit refund of $2,600. There are 12 Tax Prep Plus sites which are run by the city in collaboration with four partners: Food Bank for New York City, Project Hospitality, Arriva and Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration. The Mayor’s Commission on Women’s Issues launched a public awareness campaign on the Child Care Tax Credit program last year at their Women’s History Month event. The campaign included distributing and displaying posters, both in English and Spanish, on bus shelters and phone kiosks in targeted areas.
The Center for Economic Opportunity was established by Mayor Bloomberg to implement innovative ways to reduce poverty in New York City. Led by Executive Director Veronica White, the CEO works with City agencies to design and implement evidence-based initiatives aimed at poverty reduction. The CEO manages an Innovation Fund through which it provides City agencies annual funding to implement such initiatives and will oversee a rigorous evaluation of each to determine which are successful in demonstrating results towards reducing poverty and increasing self-sufficiency among New Yorkers.
The Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) is the first local government initiative in the nation aimed expressly at educating, empowering, and protecting those with low incomes, so they can build assets and make the most of their financial resources. OFE is the first program to be implemented under the Center for Economic Opportunity as part of the Mayor’s aggressive efforts to fight poverty in New York City.