Brooklyn Community Foundation, Capital One Bank, Food Bank Partner with NYC Dept. of Consumer Affairs to Urge Brooklynites to Use Free Tax Prep Center

In a time of unprecedented economic pressure and high unemployment in the city and the nation, a free tax preparation center has opened in Downtown Brooklyn to provide significant financial assistance to low-wage working families and individuals as well as a multi-million dollar boost to New York’s economy.

The Brooklyn Community Foundation has partnered with Capital One Bank and Food Bank For New York City to open a free tax preparation office that enables qualified working families to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) benefit, which could be worth up to $7,637 for taxpayers who have a 2009 annual income of $48,000 for families with children or $18,000 for singles. 

Borough President Marty Markowitz joined New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, Food Bank For New York City’s Vice President of Agency Resources and Access Benefits Carlos Rodriguez, and Capital One Bank’s Brooklyn Market President B.J. Duffy at a 10:00 a.m. press conference at the Downtown Brooklyn site to bring attention to the service and to the estimated 150,000 eligible NYC residents who fail to file for the income-boosting EITC benefit each year.  

 Also participating in the program were Alan Fishman, Chairman, and Marilyn Gelber, President of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, which was instrumental in establishing the Food Bank program at the Capital One site and has provided annual support for the  EITC initiative throughout the borough since it began in 2002.

The center, hosted by Capital One Bank upstairs from its branch office at 356 Fulton Street, is a free service coordinated by the Food Bank For New York City and is part of the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. It is the largest of its kind in Brooklyn and is open six days a week through mid-April.

“Hardworking Brooklynites deserve each and every penny that they have coming to them, which is why I want every one of them to know about the Earned Income Tax Credit. By spreading the word, the Brooklyn Community Foundation, Capital One Bank, and Food Bank For New York City aren’t just helping taxpayers --- they’re helping our city’s economy, which will get an injection of hundreds of millions of dollars that might otherwise remain in the IRS’ coffers.”

"Every year the Department of Consumer Affairs, with partners like the Food Bank For New York City and Brooklyn Community Foundation, helps tens of thousands of New Yorkers claim their Earned Income Tax Credit refunds, and through programs like $aveNYC, start to build savings. New Yorkers can call 311 or visit nyc.gov/consumers to find out where they can file their taxes for free and how to claim tax credits that put money back in their pockets," said New York City Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz.

“Potentially, scores of Brooklyn residents could be missing out on thousands of dollars in tax refunds – money that low-income working people can use to pay bills, purchase food for themselves and their families and start saving for their futures,” said Lucy Cabrera, Ph.D., President & CEO of the Food Bank For New York City.  “However, thanks to the support of Capital One Bank, Brooklyn Community Foundation and the Department of Consumer Affairs, we’re not only getting the word out today about the EITC, we’re providing free tax assistance services throughout the entire tax season so that thousands of hardworking Brooklyn families get every penny of the refunds they’re due.”

“With more than half a million people living below the poverty line, Brooklynites have been hard hit by the current economic crisis. The Earned Income Tax Credit is one way that working people can put money back into their pockets and also into the local economy. The Brooklyn Community Foundation is proud to partner with Capital One Bank and Food Bank For New York City to bring free quality tax preparation service to working families and individuals in Brooklyn,” said Marilyn Gelber, President of the Brooklyn Community Foundation.

“We are proud to help support the Brooklyn Community Foundation and Food Bank For New York City to provide these important tax preparation services that will benefit local working families and the local economy,” said B.J. Duffy, Brooklyn Market President, Capital One Bank. “Whether it’s in our branches or out in the community, Capital One Bank is committed to working with our local partners to help Brooklyn grow and thrive.”

ABOUT THE EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT (EITC) PROGRAM: 

The Earned Income Tax Credit has been called the nation’s largest poverty-reduction program. Qualifying taxpayers may receive Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refunds of up to $7,637 per family when they file their taxes for 2009 with the average refund last year of $2,700. Many individuals are not aware of the EITC benefit, says the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), and paid tax preparers often neglect to provide the necessary documents to claim the credit. The result is that an estimated 150,000 New York City residents forfeit millions of dollars in qualified tax refunds every year, according to the city agency. For that reason, DCA conducts an aggressive campaign through its Office of Financial Empowerment each year to promote the EITC benefit, to urge New Yorkers to find out if they are eligible, and to help guide them to free tax preparation sites around the city where they may file for it.

Last year, the Food Bank processed 35,000 family tax returns in New York City resulting in nearly $63 million in refunds for low-income New York City residents, including $15.6 million in Brooklyn. Some 3,422 households were served at the Downtown Brooklyn site in 2009, which was the second largest in NYC that year. This year’s target is 4,000 tax returns at the Capital One Bank location. Brooklyn Community Foundation has pioneered the free EITC tax preparation service in New York City working with the Food Bank at tax season every year since 2002 by providing grants to support several VITA sites in Brooklyn and in Newark, NJ.

ABOUT THE DOWNTOWN VITA SITE

The free tax preparation service is hosted by Capital One Bank in its Fulton Mall location at 356 Fulton Street, Brooklyn. Open weekdays and Saturdays until mid-April, the free service is part of the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Other Brooklyn VITA tax preparation sites operated by Food Bank in Brooklyn this year include St. John’s Bread and Life Center in Bedford Stuyvesant, Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, and DHS HomeBase CAMBA in Flatbush.

ABOUT THE FOOD BANK FOR NEW YORK CITY:

Food Bank For New York City, which coordinates this largest Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program in the county, 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. The 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 the Food Bank helps provide five meals to New Yorkers in need. For additional information, visit foodbanknyc.org.

ABOUT CAPITAL ONE BANK:

Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., had $115.8 billion in deposits and $212.0 billion in total managed assets outstanding as of December 31, 2009. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. Capital One, N.A. has approximately 1,000 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 100 index. Capital One Bank is a registered trade name of Capital One, N.A.

ABOUT THE BROOKLYN COMMUNITY FOUNDATION:

The Brooklyn Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people in Brooklyn through grantmaking and by encouraging local giving and community service. The first and only one of its kind in Brooklyn, the Foundation was founded in 2009 to support the borough’s most effective nonprofits in five Fields of Interest: Community Development, Education and Youth Achievement, Caring Neighbors, Art for All, and Green Communities. Since 1998, operating as the Independence Community Foundation, the Foundation distributed over $70 million in grants throughout New York Metro area, nearly 70% of which was in Brooklyn. More information can be found at: www.BrooklynCommunityFoundation.org.

For a list of other VITA sites:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/ofe/html/poverty/eitc.shtml


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