April 7, 2010 – With the April 15 tax-filing deadline looming, Food Bank For New York City is urging low-income, working New Yorkers to use one of their 14 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 $7,637 – but they must file a return!
According to the IRS, twenty-five percent of those who are eligible for EITC don’t 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 2009 income up to $48,279; single filers with children whose income is up to $43,279, and most single filers making less than $13,440.
“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 Food Bank For New York City. “Last year, the average tax refund was $2,700. This isn’t just free money. It is money that has been earned and we want to make sure working individuals receive every penny of it.”
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.
The EITC program is the largest poverty-reduction program in the nation. Today, the IRS recognizes the Food Bank For New York City as the largest coordinator of civilian tax assistance in the country. Last tax season, the Food Bank served 35,000 tax filers, returning over $60 million in refunds, including more than $21 million in federal EITC. Every $1 spent on this program brought back over $32 in refunds for low-income New Yorkers and not a cent of their refunds is lost to predatory refund anticipation loans.
Since Food Bank’s program launch in 2002 in New York City, it has prepared 241,200 tax returns and low income New Yorkers have received $476.5 million in tax refunds. The Food Bank provides tens of thousands of low-income working New Yorkers with free tax preparation and other financial services to ensure they receive the full tax benefits to which they are legally entitled while also connecting them with other benefits like food stamps and public health insurance.
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 Food Bank For New York City: Food Bank For New York City recognizes 26 years as the city’s major hunger-relief organization working to end food poverty throughout the five boroughs. The Food Bank works to increase access to affordable, nutritious food for low-income New Yorkers through a range of programs and services that focus on food sourcing and distribution, education and nutrition, financial empowerment, disaster relief and policy and research.
Food Bank For New York City sources and distributes food to a network of approximately 1,000 food assistance programs citywide, helping to provide 300,000 free meals a day to New Yorkers in need. Food Bank strengthens the impact of our network through food safety and capacity-building workshops; offers a hands-on nutrition education program to New York City public schools, reaching over 14,000 children, teens and adults; conducts food stamp prescreening and outreach; operates a soup kitchen and food pantry; coordinates the largest civilian Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program in the country; and develops policy and conducts research to inform community and government efforts to end food poverty throughout New York City. Every dollar donated to Food Bank helps provide five meals to New Yorkers in need. For additional information, visit foodbanknyc.org.