Richmond Hill, New York. On Wednesday, July 7th, Chhaya CDC launched the expansion of its Free Tax Prep Services in the historically underserved area of Richmond Hill, Queens. 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 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. 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. 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.
“Chhaya’s Free Tax Prep program will be the first of its kind in this community, “said Chhaya CDC’s Executive Director Annetta Seecharran, “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,” said Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “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.