Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Peter A. Hatch today kicked off DCWP’s 20th tax season.
During the season DCWP is offering free tax preparation and encouraged New Yorkers who earned $72,000 or less in 2021 to file for free using NYC Free Tax Prep. NYC Free Tax Prep offers free, professional tax preparation that can help New Yorkers keep their full refund, including valuable tax credits like the Child Tax Credit (CTC), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child and Dependent Care Credit (CDCC). The American Rescue Plan increased the value and eligibility of these credits meaning more money for more people this tax season. The IRS begins accepting returns today and ends April 18.
“Whether you’ve filed before or not, had income or not, have kids or not, changes to tax credits this year mean more money for you when you file,” said DCWP Commissioner Peter A. Hatch. “NYC Free Tax Prep can help anyone who earned $72,000 or less claim these valuable credits and file for free. Refundable tax credits have been shown to reduce poverty, help families meet basic needs such as food, rent, and childcare, and inject millions of dollars into the local economy. Claim yours by filing for free today!”
“Research has consistently shown that tax credits provide a crucial lifeline that can help lift families out of poverty,” said Carson Hicks, Deputy Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “We want to make sure all eligible families know about free tax prep and claim the money that they are due.”
“We want to support you. The money you can get from filing your taxes can help you afford what you and your family need, whether it be paying the rent, child care, or that extra bill,” said Megan Tackney, Executive Director of the Children’s Cabinet. “We are committed to connecting you to free tax prep wherever you live.”
“This year marks the 16th anniversary of EITC Awareness Day. For over 45 years, EITC has aided low- to moderate-income workers and families through a significant tax break and a much-needed refund,” said Louis A. Morizio, IRS – SPEC: NYC Territory Manager. “The EITC is one of the federal government’s largest antipoverty programs, offering financial assistance to hardworking Americans. People may ask why IRS promotes EITC Awareness Day every year, and my response is that approximately 20 percent of eligible taxpayers do not claim the credit. Therefore, it is important that we remind families and workers about EITC since we understand that lives, incomes, and personal circumstances will change over time.”
Claiming even one of these tax credits this tax season could equal thousands of dollars.
Child Tax Credit (CTC): Parents and caregivers with children younger than 18 can get up to $3,000 or $3,600 per child depending on the child’s age. Filers do not need to have had income to claim the credit. Families who got advance payments in 2021, must file in 2022 to get the rest of their money. This includes families who signed up online using the IRS Non-filer Portal or GetCTC.org. Only the children being claimed need to have Social Security Numbers (SSN); the filer does not need a SSN and can file using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): EITC is available to work families and individuals with low and moderate incomes. Now filers who are as 19 and older with or without children can claim up to $6,728 depending on the number of qualifying children.
Child and Dependent Care Credit (CDCC): Working families who pay for childcare for children under 13 or the care of dependent adults can get back up to $4,000 in care expenses for one qualifying person and up to $8,000 for two or more people.
2022 NYC Free Tax Prep Services
DCWP’s City-funded NYC Free Tax Prep program offers multiple options to file for free, including in-person, drop-off, virtual and online services. Families with dependents who earned $72,000 or less in 2020 and individuals who earned $50,000 or less can use NYC Free Tax Prep. Filers should check the eligibility requirements and choose the filing option that is best for them. Anyone who lives or works in New York City can use NYC Free Tax Prep.
NYC Free Tax Prep services include
In-Person Tax Prep—sit down with a volunteer preparer: At in-person tax prep sites, knowledgeable IRS certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)/Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) volunteer preparers help filers complete an accurate tax return. Nearly 50 sites across the city are currently open and more will be opening in the coming weeks.
Drop-off Service—drop off your documents and pick up your completed return later: With drop-off service, filers can drop off their tax documents and pick up the completed return later.
Virtual Tax Prep—like in-person free filing but online: Virtual Tax Prep is an online service where an IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer will video conference with filers to help prepare their tax return using a secure digital system. Filers can submit photos or scans of tax documents to the preparer, confirm their identity, and complete their return by video call with a preparer. Filers will need access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone; a stable internet connection; and the ability to download secure video conference software.
Assisted Self-Preparation—free online tax prep on your own or with help: Assisted Self-Preparation allows filers to complete their tax return online on their own and an IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer will be available by phone or email to answer questions. Filers will need access to a computer, tablet, or smartphone; a stable internet connection; an email address, and their 2020 adjusted gross income (AGI) or self-select PIN.
New Yorkers can call 311 or visit nyc.gov/taxprep to choose the best filing option for them and find the most convenient location if choosing in-person or drop-off tax prep. A checklist of what documents New Yorkers need to bring with them to file and multilingual information (additional languages available soon) about the services are available at nyc.gov/taxprep. Services are available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Aremenian, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian-Creole, Hebrew, Korean, Russian, Urdu and others to come. Visit nyc.gov/taxprep to stay up to date and join the #FreeTaxPrep conversation on @NYCDCA’s social media channels.
NYC Free Tax Prep Public Awareness Campaign
In an effort to raise awareness about this year’s valuable tax credits and NYC Free Tax Prep, DCWP will host a virtual Community and Ethnic Media Roundtable this Thursday, January 27, in advance of EITC Awareness Day on Friday. Media interested in attending can contact the DCWP press office at firstname.lastname@example.org for details. DCWP is also kicking off its community outreach efforts this week with outreach in target communities in every borough. We will also send out a Free Tax Prep email to all external stakeholders and schedule virtual and in-person presentations in target neighborhoods with community partners.
This year, DCWP is also launching a new multilingual public awareness campaign focused on raising awareness about tax credits and free filing that will run in the city’s bus shelters, LinkNYC, as well as in print, on radio and online. DCWP is also conducting street marketing, and extensive outreach throughout the season, doing a targeted mailing to 350,000 EITC-eligible New Yorkers and, with the help of the City’s tax season partners, distributing 200,000 multilingual informational brochures. DCWP is also collaborating with more than two dozen sister agencies to inform New Yorkers about these valuable tax credits and how to access free tax prep.
In July 2021, DCWP, in coordination with NYC Opportunity and the Children’s Cabinet, launched a massive campaign to boost uptake of the newly enhanced federal Child Tax credit (CTC), leveraging DCWP’s NYC Free Tax Prep providers to help families enroll. To raise awareness, we marshalled 15 City agencies and offices and more than 5,000 community based organized and armed them with communication tools in 10 languages. Through email campaigns to 500,000 SNAP and cash assistance clients, to 403,000 City employee emails, and to others; Public Engagement Unit (PEU) text messages to 185,000 households with children in targeted ZIP Codes; a paid digital advertising campaign and press placements in community and ethnic media among other strategies, the City reached more than 1 million New Yorkers about the CTC. DCWP also represented the City on the White House Child Tax Credit Working Group for Local Government
Consumers using a paid preparer should ask the preparer for a Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers (additional languages available soon) and read it thoroughly before having their taxes prepared, and also get DCWP’s Tips Regarding Tax Preparers. Consumers should also be on alert for preparers that overcharge, charge hidden fees, or file their return without permission.
“Ariva, Inc. will once again be offering in-person tax assistance by appointment only to our vaccinated clients, and drop off assistance to all others, at our Bronx offices this filing season. We are deeply grateful to our volunteers and tax staff whose generosity and dedication has made it possible for us to continue to provide this important service during these challenging times,” said Irene Baldwin, Executive Director, ARIVA.
“As we enter our third pandemic tax season, we have a robust plan in place to provide drop-off and virtual tax preparation to our community which relies on this free service. More than 75 percent of our clients have money returned and collectively our clients receive an average of $500,000 in Earned Income Tax Credits. Money returned is particularly important in the ever-changing pandemic economy, and we will encourage our clients to also take advantage of our job training and placement, financial counseling, and care coordination services,” said Tracey Capers, Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.
“At Bronx NHS CDC, we are very excited to start this new tax season. Last tax season was very productive and rewarding and allowed us to file over 1,200 tax returns bringing to our community more than $1,000,000. When we started the implementation of the tax preparation services, we did not know that it would become one of our most requested services by low-income families in our community. Today, we have created a whole unit to serve our community with free tax preparation services and provide ancillary services needed and requested by our clients. We are looking forward to the new tax season and we already started to schedule clients to receive free tax preparation services,” said Oscar Morillo, Executive Director, The Bronx NHS CDC.
“We are deeply grateful to our partners at the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for offering Center for Family Life in Sunset Park the opportunity to provide our trusted free tax preparation and filing services online so that our community members can complete their taxes. So many of our neighbors are in significant financial need and still working to cope with the pandemic and need trusted support to complete their tax filings. We are honored to serve our community and provide this much-needed support,” said Co-Executive Director, Julia Jean-Francois, Center for Family Life.
“For over 10 years, hard-working New York taxpayers, both child-free and those with families, have fulfilled tax filing responsibilities using NYC Free Tax Prep service through services offered at Grow Brooklyn. This vital service has had to be flexible to meet the needs of taxpayers during our ongoing pandemic. For this tax season, Grow Brooklyn will offer two types of service to meet the needs of New Yorkers; we will work with taxpayers in-person and virtually. Our great team is looking forward to providing free, accurate, and most of all, safe tax prep service to all New Yorkers who qualify,” said Makeela Brathwaite, Executive Director, Grow Brooklyn, & Virtual Services Director, Free Tax Prep.
“NMIC is proud to partner with the NYC Free Tax Prep program to provide access to safe, effective free tax services. Through this partnership, NMIC is able to serve thousands of community members each year. This crucial program is key to the economic empowerment of our communities and provides families with access to thousands of dollars to help stabilize them during these difficult times,” said Maria Lizardo LMSW, Executive Director, NMIC.
“Project Hospitality is proud to provide free tax preparation services to eligible Staten Islanders. Through this program, we ensure that members of our community will receive their full tax refunds, Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit—important financial supports that enable families to meet their needs,” said Rev. Karen Jackson, Director of Community Initiatives, Project Hospitality.
“Filing your taxes or knowing which tax credits your family is eligible for can be confusing, but the variety of free tax preparation services offered by the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection are worth exploring for those looking to recoup as much money as possible during tax season,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “I encourage all eligible working-class Queens families to take advantage of these services and claim potentially thousands of dollars in tax credits owed to you.”
NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCWP licenses more than 59,000 businesses in more than 50 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more.
By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCWP protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance.
Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCWP empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCWP also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities.