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News from DCA - Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kay Sarlin/Abigail Lootens
(212) 487-4283


ONLY ONE MONTH LEFT TO APRIL 18 TAX DEADLINE: DCA URGES ELIGIBLE NEW YORKERS TO FILE THEIR TAXES NOW AND SIGN UP FOR A SAVEUSA ACCOUNT FOR A 50 PERCENT SAVINGS MATCH

New Yorkers Have More Options Than Ever to File Their Taxes For Free or Low Cost at nyc.gov/taxprep

With tomorrow marking just one month left until the April 18th tax deadline, Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz encourages New Yorkers, who make less than $57,000 and haven’t yet filed their taxes, to use the City’s free or low cost filing options and for eligible filers to sign up for a SaveUSA account, a tax-time savings program that can offer participants a 50 percent “match”—up to $500—when they save part of their refund for a full year.  These special accounts are going quickly and there are only 300 still available.

“With the tax deadline fast approaching, we want New Yorkers to remember that there are not only more ways than ever to file their taxes for free or at very low cost but that their refund checks are a great way to start saving,” said Commissioner Jonathan Mintz.  “More than 2,000 New Yorkers have proved that they can and want to save by setting aside a portion of their refund in our savings program.  With a SaveUSA account, there is zero risk—you can set aside your refund and earn money towards college expenses, vacation or a rainy day –whatever you choose–and you can retrieve it whenever you need it.  This year, we only have 300 SaveUSA accounts left so it’s time to go get your refund today and ask about SaveUSA.  Visit nyc.gov/taxprep or call 311 for more information.” 

New Yorkers earning $50,000 or less could be eligible to open a SaveUSA account when they file their taxes for free at participating Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. Participants for the program are selected at random, so all interested savers have an equal chance to open a SaveUSA account while funds last.  In order to earn the 50 percent match, participants must save their initial deposit for a full year.  However, if needed, they can withdraw their money at any time for any reason. If the account balance goes below the initial deposit, they will not receive a match.

The SaveUSA program was developed based on promising findings from the $aveNYC program, launched by DCA in 2008.  $aveNYC attracted approximately 2,200 savers in its first three years of operation, 25 percent of whom did not have a bank account, and 50 percent of whom reported having no savings account when they entered the program.  To date, participants living in some of New York’s poorest neighborhoods accumulated more than $1.4 million in savings. The majority of participants—80 percent—saved for at least one year and received the match funds and 70 percent continued to save even after receiving the match.  The program, now called SaveUSA, has been replicated in three other cities—Newark, NJ,  Tulsa, OK and San Antonio, TX—through the Social Innovation Fund awarded by the Corporation for National and Community Service to the Mayor’s Fund and the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO).  For more information about SaveUSA in New York City, visit nyc.gov/saveusa.  

SaveUSA is part of the City’s Annual Tax Credit Campaign, which increases awareness about tax credits that can put money back in the pockets of working New Yorkers and offers qualifying New Yorkers free and low cost options for filing their taxes.   New Yorkers can find out if they qualify for important tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the New York City Child Care Tax Credit when they use any of the City’s tax prep options. These tax prep opportunities will not include Refund Anticipation Loans or other loans.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Sites
New Yorkers who earn less than $50,000 with children or $18,000 for those who do not have children can visit a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site in the five boroughs where a certified volunteer will prepare their taxes for free.  There are more than 60 sites Citywide that have already helped file more than 27,800 returns.  Last year, the program prepared almost 69,000 tax returns for an estimated $114.1 million in returns for New Yorkers.  SaveUSA is available at participating VITA sites.

Online Tax Preparation
New Yorkers earning less than $57,000 can also file their taxes online for free through the City’s free tax preparation website on nyc.gov/taxprep.  So far this year, more than 1,200 have filed online.  Last year, more than 1,600 returns were filed online, claiming a total of $1.7 million in refunds.
 
Assisted Online Tax Preparation
New Yorkers earning less than $48,000 can visit 19 participating sites where they can prepare their taxes for free online on Intuit’s TurboTax Freedom Edition secure website.  Trained tax guides are also available to walk people through the process and answer basic questions.  A list of participating sites is available on nyc.gov/taxprep.  So far this year, 1,500 returns have been filed online at an assisted online tax site.  Last year, more than 1,900 returns were filed online at a site, claiming a total of $2.2 million in refunds.

H&R Block Discount
New Yorkers can also have their tax returns prepared at a participating H&R Block office with a new City-sponsored coupon for just $29.  To qualify for the H&R Block discount, residents must earn less than $41,000 with children or $31,000 if they have no children. Those interested should visit the City’s website nyc.gov/taxprep to print out the coupon. New Yorkers who qualify for H&R Block discount tax preparation in 2011 will receive the same $29 offer next year if they are eligible.  More than 6,000 New Yorkers have used the City’s H&R Block coupon.

New York City’s Tax Credit Coalition Campaign is spearheaded by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and supported in part by donations made to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. Funders include Single Stop USA, Bank of America, Citi, and Con Edison.  The campaign includes the following partners: H&R Block, Deloitte, Intuit Inc., Internal Revenue Service (IRS), One Economy Corporation, the New York City Human Resources Administration, the New York City Housing Authority, and additional partners who assist with promoting the City’s tax season options (please visit www.nyc.gov for a full listing). The Online Tax Assistance Site Partners include Ariva, Goodwill Industries, CAMBA, Food Bank for New York City, New York Urban League, 1199 SEIU, Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, NYC Department of Education Office of Adult Continuing Education, and the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.

DCA enforces the Consumer Protection Law and other related business laws throughout New York City. Ensuring a fair and vibrant marketplace for consumers and businesses, DCA licenses more than 78,000 businesses in 55 different industries. Through targeted outreach, partnerships with community and trade organizations, and informational materials, DCA educates consumers and businesses alike about their rights and responsibilities.  DCA’s Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) is the first local government initiative in the nation with a mission to educate, empower, and protect New Yorkers with low incomes so they can build assets and make the most of their financial resources. Toward that end, OFE seeks to increase access to high-quality, low-cost financial education and counseling; improve access to income-boosting tax credits; connect households to safe and affordable banking and asset-building products and services; and enforce and improve consumer protections to enhance financial stability. For more information, call 311 or visit DCA online at nyc.gov/consumers.  Follow us on Twitter and find us on Facebook.
  

2011 Tax Preparation Required Documents

When having someone prepare your taxes in person, bring:

  • Proof of identity, such as a driver's license or other photo ID 
  • Social Security cards for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents and/or a Social Security Number (SSN) verification letter from the Social Security Administration OR Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) letter for all names on the return (original or copies)
  • Birth dates for yourself, your spouse, and the dependents on the return 
  • Wage and earning statement from your employer(s): Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R 
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1098 and 1099) 
  • A copy of your 2009 federal and state returns, if available 
  • Proof of any other income, e.g., lottery winnings 
  • Total paid for child care provider and the provider's Taxpayer Identification Number or SSN (if you are claiming the New York City Child Care Tax Credit)
  • Bank account and routing numbers (if you are directly depositing your refund). Note: If you use direct deposit, you should receive your federal tax refund in only 8 to 14 business days. 
  • To file a Married Filing Jointly return, both spouses must be present to sign required forms.

When preparing taxes online, you'll need:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) OR Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for yourself, your spouse, and the dependents on the return
  • Birth dates for yourself, your spouse, and the dependents on the return 
  • Your 2009 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) or Self-Select PIN number. (AGI is the amount shown on your 2009 Form 1040, line 38; Form 1040A, line 22; or Form 1040EZ, line 4. The Self-Select PIN is the five-digit PIN you used to electronically sign your 2009 return.) If you cannot find this information, call the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at 1-800-829-1040. 
  • Wage and earning statement from your employer(s): Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R 
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1098 and 1099) 
  • Proof of any other income, e.g., lottery winnings 
  • Total paid for child care provider and the provider's Taxpayer Identification Number or SSN (if you are claiming the New York City Child Care Tax Credit) 
  • Bank account and routing numbers (if you are directly depositing your refund). Note: If you use direct deposit, you should receive your federal tax refund in only 8 to 14 business days.