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  February 8, 2004

You May Be Entitled to a Tax Refund
By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

Earlier this month, I proposed a $400 property tax rebate for home, co-op, and condo owners in New York. And last week, I delivered more good news about taxes. There are hundreds of thousands of working New Yorkers who are entitled to get money from Uncle Sam and the State this tax season—and our Administration is teaming up with community organizations around the city to help you get it.

Between now and the April 15th tax deadline, we’re going to be urging eligible New Yorkers to apply for the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, or “EITC.” The EITC is a refund that’s paid to working families with household incomes of less than $35,000 — even those who don’t owe income taxes because their incomes are too low. Who qualifies? Well, for example, couples with no children whose income is $12,230 a year or less, who have one child and an income of no more than $30,666, or two children and an income no greater than $34,692. The EITC is a way to help people work their way up the economic ladder; they can claim it for 2003 and for previous years, too.

This is the second year in a row that we’ve encouraged New Yorkers to file for the EITC; after our efforts last year, some 30,000 more people in our city filed than in 2002. That brought the total number of EITC filers in the city to nearly 800,000. While that’s good, we can do better; an estimated 230,000 New Yorkers qualify for the EITC but don’t file for it, usually because they don’t know about it.

We’re working to change that. Between now and April 15th, there will be free tax-assistance sites at the City’s job support centers and at the offices of community organizations in all five boroughs. Employers are helping get the word out; so are newspapers and radio and television stations by donating print space and airtime to our public information campaign. Our slogan is, “It’s Your Money, Come and Get It!”—or, en español, “Es Tu Dinero, Venga a Buscarlo!” And for the first time this year, New Yorkers can also call the Citizen Service Hotline at 311 to find the most convenient tax-assistance site anywhere in the city.

Why are we making such a big effort? Just consider this. Last year, the average New Yorker filing for the Federal EITC received a check from the IRS for $1,850. A 25% matching credit from the State raised that amount to just over $2,350. If all the New Yorkers eligible for the EITC file for it this year, that will pump more than $540 million additional dollars into our neighborhoods. Just like our $400 City property tax rebate, that money will be spent in local stores, support local businesses, and grow our local economy.

New York is bouncing back. Businesses are expanding and unemployment is substantially lower than it was a year ago. Now let’s work to ensure that everyone enjoys the benefits of our recovery — including the tax benefits. The property tax rebate will do that; so will the scheduled expiration of the State income and property tax surcharges. And filing for the Federal EITC is another great way to put the people’s money back in the people’s pockets. It’s your money; come and get it.