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Mayor, DCA launch $aveNYC savings program

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After a successful pilot program, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Community Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz came to the Bronx to announce the launch of $aveNYC Accounts, a city-backed savings account encouraging New Yorkers of modest means to save part of their tax refunds.

Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda Gibbs was also on hand at the announcement, which took place in Highbridge at CheckSpring/Ariva Tax Preparation Center located at 69 E. 167 Street on Tuesday, January 27.

$aveNYC accounts are special savings accounts helping low income Bronxites make the most of their tax refunds by building savings through a privately funded City matching program. The private matching-funding comes from the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.

Low-income Bronxites who visit select Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites to file their taxes may be eligible to open a $aveNYC account, which offers 50% matching funds up to $250 if they save the money for at least one year. This is in addition to the two to three percent interest the accounts earn.

“Every tax season, our Administration joins community organizations to help hard working New Yorkers get back the money they are due,” Bloomberg said. “This year, with the economy in recession, that work is even more important, and we are offering more support than ever. Not only are we offering more free and low-cost tax assistance sites, but our matching fund program will create incentives for hard-working families to put away some of their refunds for future emergencies.”

Bloomberg acknowledged that with the economy in recession, City services are going to be even more taxed than in the past, and for the first time since the Giuliani Administration, during the past few months the amount of filings for welfare have actually gone up – after declining almost ever month for years.

Nevertheless, the accounts can be extremely helpful for those doing the saving, and is an incentive for parents, mainly the fathers of single children throughout the city, to work and earn money to support their children.

“The Center for Economic Opportunity’s over-arching goal to help families lift – and keep themselves – out of poverty,” Gibbs said. “The EITC and New York City’s local child care tax credit are two of the best tools we have to put money in the pockets of hard-working New Yorkers who need it now more than ever.”

Bloomberg said that programs like $aveNYC, are helping to help people help themselves. The $aveNYC Account program began in the 2008 tax season as a pilot program for approximately 150 New Yorkers. One of those in the pilot program, who is today reaping the rewards, was Bronxite Robert Wilson, who will receive $250 in matching funds in March.

In order to qualify for $aveNYC, families must be earning less than $45,000 per year, and individuals must be earning less than $20,000 annually. Those who open a $aveNYC account can withdraw their money at any time without penalty.

Bronx residents can locate free or low-cost tax preparation sites, as well as VITA sites offering $aveNYC accounts, by calling 311 or visiting www.nyc.gov.

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