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New York, New York

Contact Information

If you, your business, or organization are interested in becoming a part of the Disability Initiative Workgroup, please contact Pam Owens or Desryl DeSouza of NYC Tax and Benefits Disability Coalition at [email protected] or [email protected] or German Tejeda of Earned Income Tax Credit Program at [email protected].

If you are already a member of the Disability Initiative Workgroup and have questions regarding the IRS participation, then please contact Monica Merchan at [email protected].

Disability Initiative Workgroup

In 2009, the The NYC Tax and Benefits Disability Coalition linked Seedco, a key tax prepration member, to groups who serve clients with disabilities, including the Coalition on Behavioral Health Agencies, VISIONS, Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled, Goddard-Riverside Top Opportunities Program and the Harlem Independent Living Center.

The NYC Tax and Benefits Disability Coalition participated in the DeafTax VITA Pilot Phase I to prepare tax returns for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing.   The Harlem Independent Living Center and the Lexington Center for the Deaf completed approximately two-thirds or all returns in the project.

Coalition members presented two financial education trainings on basic banking.   One training was for a dozen high school- aged students with visual impairment in partnership with VISIONS. Large-print materials were offered. The second training was for parents with hearing impairments in partnership with P.S. 347 (an elementary school in Manhattan). Two ASL interpreters were present to make the information accessible to the parents.

"Building Bridges: A Networking Breakfast for Financial Education and Disability Advocates" brought together advocates from two separate communities so they can better understand the need for partnership, learn of models of successful partnerships, and form their own partnerships to help people with disabilities climb the ladder to economic self-sufficiency. Speakers included Elizabeth Jennings, National Disability Institute; Cathie Mahon, NYC Department of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Financial Empowerment; Pam Owens, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions; David Romeo, Goodwill Industries of Greater New York & Northern NJ; James P. Griffin, 54Freedom , Inc.; Barbara Goins, Internal Revenue Service; and Laura Cruz, Lexington Vocational Services Center, Inc. The event also featured a facilitated networking session.

In 2010, the coalition will:

·          expand our efforts to connect free mobile tax preparation with disability organizations;

·          publicize accessible free tax prepration sites to the disability community through the use of organizational list serves and flyers; and

·          expand our efforts to continue the project to link people who are deaf to free tax preparation using real-time ASL interpretation.

The coalition will most likely organize an event in 2010 to promote free tax preparation, asset building and tax credits to people with disabilities and their advocates.   There is also an opportunity to coordinate efforts with other NDI-supported organizations in New York City that will work to increase tax credit uptake for people with disabilities.  

Food Bank participates in the Mayor's NYC EITC Coalition which conducts media outreach for the VITA program.   New York City residents can call the city's 311 information number to find out about free tax preparation locations in their neighborhoods which are handicap accessible.   The Department for the Aging also refers the elderly to our VITA sites.

Food Bank will work with three agencies that serve the disabled including: Initiative for Women with Disabilities, Prince George Disability Housing and IRS Disability Events.   We anticipate preparing over 100 tax returns for these groups through our mobile tax unit.  

Food Bank will continue to focus our mobile tax unit on serving agencies with disabled populations.   Each year we provide tax assistance to approximately 3,000 clients with disabilities through our 11 standing tax sites.