Citi Community Development Announces $2.6 Million Investment in Collaboration with 12 Municipalities and Regions, to Support Free Tax Preparation Services
NEW YORK, January 26, 2018 /3BL Media/ -- Citi Community Development announced today a $2.6 million investment to support free tax preparation services for eligible workers in major cities and regions across the country. Launched on National Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day, the investment will support municipal efforts to expand awareness, access and capacity of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites during the 2018 tax season. Citi Community Development’s investment aims to help local organizations complete over 230,000 tax returns, resulting in approximately $191 million in tax refunds during the 2018 tax season. Citi also announced that volunteers from the bank will serve as tax preparers in VITA sites across the New York City region.
“Research has shown that 44 percent of households in the U.S. lack enough savings to cover a $400 emergency expense. This eye-opening statistic illustrates the persistent financial vulnerability millions of Americans still feel despite the growing economy” said Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Community Development. “Earned Income Tax Credits are often the largest cash infusion workers will receive all year, providing an essential financial cushion for those households living paycheck-to-paycheck. The investment Citi is making today will ensure that by working with local governments and trusted community organizations, eligible families will have access to free, high quality tax preparation services, and the full roster of tax credits they have earned.”
Citi's investment supports the establishment or expansion of significant EITC Awareness campaigns in 12 cities and regions across the country including: New York City and Long Island, New York; Newark, New Jersey; Miami-Dade County, Florida; the Bay Area region; Fresno, Orange County, San Diego, Sacramento and Los Angeles in California; South Dakota; and Washington, DC.
Initiatives funded in part by Citi Community Development’s investments include notable innovations. In the Bay Area, the cities of Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose will establish a shared branded EITC awareness campaign and tax preparation network, the first time the three local governments have coordinated to create a regional strategy. In Los Angeles, Citi Community Development is collaborating with California State University Northridge, the Department of Veteran Affairs and the City of Los Angeles to support greater EITC take-up among veterans and military families through a peer-to-peer approach where experienced tax preparers will be recruited from the military community.
“The federal Earned Income Tax Credit has been a tried-and-true way to reduce poverty, and our state-level credit supplements the benefit for hundreds of thousands of Californians. But we must continue to spread the word about these programs, because far too many people are missing out on refunds that they have earned with their hard work,” said Senator Toni Atkins, the incoming President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate. “I am grateful to Citi and its partners throughout the state for helping reduce the amount of money our working families leave on the table.”
“For many working families in Fresno, earned income tax credit programs can be the first step to financial stability,” said Fresno Mayor Lee Brand. “I am grateful for partners like Citi and United Way for getting the word out about these state and federal tax credits and facilitating free tax preparation for Fresno families who otherwise wouldn’t get the support they need."
“Working families deserve every opportunity to put money back in their pockets — dollars they can invest in meaningful ways like getting quality childcare for their kids, making home improvements, getting more reliable transportation, and investing in higher education,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This partnership will help thousands of Angelenos better understand how to take advantage of tax credits that can help them get ahead.”
“EITC is one of the largest poverty reduction programs in the United States and a vital tax credit that helps working families pay bills and save for their families’ future,” said New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “We would like to thank Citi for their long-time support of our tax campaign, and encourage New Yorkers to take advantage of our trusted and professional free tax prep services to ensure that their returns are completed accurately and that they are receiving every credit and deduction available to them, including the EITC.”
“This is a key time for California. As elected leaders work to mitigate the impacts of the statewide housing and cost of living crisis, we have a responsibility to utilize ever tool available to make sure that we aren’t leaving working families behind,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland. “The Earned Income Tax Credit is a proven solution to help prevent hard working families from sinking deeper into debt and poverty, and we are pleased to launch the Earn It Keep It Save It campaign in collaboration with Citi Community Development to help provide an immediate relief for working families and vulnerable residents that need it most.”
“We are thrilled that Citi has made this generous investment in the financial well-being of our City and our region, and we are proud to work with United Way California Capital Region to get the word out about this growth in their truly free tax preparation programs,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “Together we will make sure that many more of our residents can get free tax prep appointments, avoid costly, unnecessary tax products and services, and claim all the credits they’ve earned.”
According to the Internal Revenue Service, in 2017, 26 million people received more than $63 billion in EITC with the average amount received was more than $2,400. Citi’s investment builds on three years of prior investments and pilots targeting EITC utilization, most notably in New York City.
In 2015, Citi joined the City of New York as the sole corporate partner in the largest public education and outreach tax credit campaign in the city’s history. The campaign included more than 2,000 volunteers and the city’s network of VITA sites more than tripled to nearly 200 locations citywide. Research showed that an estimated one-in-five households in New York were eligible for EITC but did not claim it. The campaign increased the number of people utilizing VITA sites from 96,000 to 150,000 people, which meant the city could return $250 million in savings and refunds to low-income New York families. Over the past three years, more than 425,000 New Yorkers have filed with NYC Free Tax Prep and received approximately half a billion dollars in savings and refunds.
Since 2015, Citi has supported New York City in implementing key recommendations from Designing for Financial Empowerment (DFE), a collaborative initiative to build more accessible and effective public services to meet the needs of financially vulnerable residents by using a participatory approach known as “service design” to improve services with the direct involvement of all stakeholders. New York’s Free Tax Prep campaign implemented several new measures developed by DFE to improve take up, including the rollout of new unified brand identity for tax prep services, and a web-based pre-registration portal.
ABOUT CITI COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Citi Community Development leads Citi’s commitment to financial inclusion and economic empowerment for underserved individuals, families and communities across the U.S. Through innovative collaborations with municipalities, community groups and leading nonprofit organizations, we harness Citi’s expertise, products and services to help expand opportunity for all.
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