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Bloomy touts child care tax credit in Jackson Heights

Families struggling to make ends meet in New York City made copious use of the city’s first day care tax credit last year, with more than 50,000 getting rebates up to $1,733, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in Jackson Heights Monday.

Speaking at the St. Mark’s AME Church on Northern Boulevard, Bloomberg said the credit is part of a concerted effort to help workers ease the burden of the city’s high cost of living.

“Too often after paying for child care, taking a full−time job often results in a net loss,” he said.

A February report by the nonprofit Center for an Urban Future found that Queens had a higher cost of living in the third quarter of 2008 than all but four of the 315 major urban areas measured. Only Manhattan, San Francisco, Honolulu and San Jose were more expensive, the report said.

The report also found that the market rate cost of nursery school in the city is $13,260 per year for toddlers and $19,240 for infants.

Bloomberg said 50,675 families used the tax credit last year, receiving a combined $30 million in rebates. He noted that New York and Washington, D.C., are the only two cities in the country offering municipal tax credits for child care.

“This is a shining example of our city’s over−arching strategy to help New Yorkers work their way out of poverty,” he said.

DCA Commissioner Jonathan Mintz also hailed the program.

“There is real money out there,” he said, noting the average family received a $600 rebate. “It may sound too good to be true, but it really is true.”

Veronica White, executive director of the Center for Economic Opportunity, called the tax credit “a home run” among the group’s 30 antipoverty programs started since 2007.

The credit is available to city residents who earn $30,000 or less and pay child care expenses for children 3 and younger, a potential relief for struggling families in the midst of a faltering economy.

Lucy Cabrera, director of the Food Bank of New York City, which operates a number of free or low−cost tax preparation sites throughout the city, said food pantries around the city are seeing a 35 percent increase in demand this year.

“We hope it will go down, but common sense says it will go up,” Bloomberg said.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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