Citing history of targeting low-income families, city’s biggest community organizations join coalition to keep Walmart out of city

NEW YORK, NY – On the last day for employers to send out 2010 W-2 notices, a group of New York City’s most powerful community-based organizations blasted Walmart for its recently announced partnership with Jackson-Hewitt, a tax preparation firm that specializes in controversial Refund Anticipation Loans.

According to Jon Kest, Executive Director of New York Communities for Change, “By partnering with one of the nation’s most notorious predatory lenders, Walmart has once again shown its true colors.  While the company may claim to care about low income families, deals like this show their real goal is to make as much money off the backs of poor people as possible.”

Refund Anticipation Loans charge interest rates as high as 24% APR in exchange for giving taxpayers an advance on their expected tax refunds.  The loans frequently target low-income families, and the IRS has long sought to ban them. Jackson Hewitt is poised to become the largest provider of such loans in the nation.

With Jackson Hewitt announcing this January that it would open service stations in over 2,000 Walmarts around the country, leaders of many organizations representing low income New Yorkers worry that Walmart’s plans to open up stores in New York City could leave their members subject to exploitation.

“Walmart already kills three jobs for every two poverty-wage job it creates,” said Amanda Altman, Lead Organizer with Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition. “And now they’re planning on bringing predatory lenders with them into our city?  This is a company that sucks the blood of low-income communities, and we don’t need them here in New York.”

NWBCCC is one of several community-based organizations whose members will soon vote on endorsing the Walmart Free NYC Coalition, a growing alliance of workers, residents, small business owners, community leaders, clergy, and elected officials committed to keeping Walmart out of New York City.

Today, New York Communities for Change, Make the Road New York, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), and Picture the Homeless all announced their official endorsements of the Walmart Free NYC coalition.

One Make the Road New York member who runs a small business providing tax assistance to low income families across the city said he supports his organization opposing Walmart because the company would prevent small business owners like him from helping the community.

“As someone who works preparing people’s taxes, I know that Jackson Hewitt’s practices are predatory, and I think the fact that Walmart and Jackson Hewitt are working together is a sham. It just shows how much Walmart cares about the neighborhoods where it opens its stores. Jackson Hewitt’s practices don’t treat people right, and neither do Walmart’s. Instead of focusing on these big companies, we should be focusing on how businesses like mine and others like it can flourish, and how New York City can strengthen its small business motor.” said Carlos Bustamante, President of EZ Tax New York and member of Make the Road New York’s Small Business United project.