As Part of its Expansion of Poverty Fighting Services to the Historically Underserved Neighborhoods
On Wednesday, July 7th, 2017 Chhaya CDC, a non-profit organization, launched the expansion of its Free Tax Prep Services in the “historically underserved area of Richmond Hill, Queens,” a press release from the organization said.
Chhaya began to offer these services last year with the support of NYC’s Department of Consumer Affairs and helped nearly 100 families claim the powerful asset building tool of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
This year, the release said, Chhaya continues to offer the tax preparation services in almost seven additional languages.
By working with Queens Public Library at the Lefferts Branch, Chhaya’s program will be one of two NYC Free Tax Prep tax sites serving the communities of Richmond Hill, South Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, and South Ozone Park.
According to the press release, one out of every five households in these neighborhoods live in poverty and could benefit from access to free, professional-quality tax preparation services.
Chhaya CDC is the only South Asian and Indo-Caribbean community development organization, whose mission is advocate for and build economically stable, sustainable and thriving communities, the press release states.
The organization feels that tax preparation is often a daunting and expensive endeavor for low to moderate income individuals, and often not seen as an opportunity. NYC Free Tax Prep increases awareness about tax credits that put money back in the pockets of working New Yorkers.
“Far too many qualified individuals do not take advantage of the EITC, leaving thousands of dollars on the table that can be put to good use – whether it’s education, paying off a loan, upgrading a household appliance, moving, etc,” the release noted.
“Chhaya’s Free Tax Prep program will be the first of its kind in this community,” Chhaya CDC’s Executive Director Annetta Seecharran was quoted in the release as saying. She added, “Building on our other immigration and housing counseling services in this neighborhood, this is an important next step in expanding Chhaya’s programs to the Richmond Hill community, which is a desert when it comes to social services. Each tax prep client will be provided a list of wrap around services connected to Chhaya’s work in housing, financial capability, and immigration.”
“The reason why Queens Library is able to provide free, high-quality services such as free tax preparation is because of our partnerships with outstanding organizations such as Chhaya CDC and government agencies such as the Department of Consumer Affairs,” Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott was quoted as saying. “They make it possible for us to meet our mission to build strong communities and give our customers the information and resources to help them grow personally and intellectually.”
“Since 2015 we have helped New Yorkers file more than 425,000 returns for free and claim refund-boosting tax credits that can be pivotal in helping them pay bills, get out of debt and save for their future,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “We are proud to be working with Chhaya CDC again this year to expand our trusted and professional free tax prep services to previously underserved communities. I encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of this free program to ensure that their returns are completed accurately and that they are receiving every credit and deduction available to them, including the EITC.”
NYC Free Tax Prep is offered at Lefferts Library on Wednesdays: February 7, 21; March 7, 21; and April 4 at 11 AM. This free service is available for families or individuals who earned below $66,000 in 2017.
For more information about NYC Free Tax Prep, visit nyc.gov/taxprep or call 311. You can also text “Taxes” to 42033 (message and data rates may apply) to find the nearest location and receive tax season updates and reminders and join the #FreeTaxPrep conversation on @NYCDCA’s social media channels.