New York City is spending $3.1 million -- nearly 20 times more than in previous years -- to make sure that people eligible for an Earned Income Tax Credit get the tax refunds to which they are entitled.

One in five households -- about 250,000 individuals or families -- in New York City are eligible for the credit but leave the money on the table, according to the cit'sConsumer Affairs department.

The city is contacting more than 270,000 residents through various means in three different languages to encourage them to file at more than 200 locations offering free tax preparation services.

New Yorkers can go to to check out their income eligibility and find a free tax prep service nearby or call 311 for guidance. New Yorkers earning up to $53,000 a year may be eligible for an EITC, depending on family composition and other factors.

In NYC, EITC claims average $2,500 and can be worth as much as much as $8,293. The EITC "is oftentimes the largest lump sum of money low-income New Yorkers will receive in a year, and it's a critical tool we can use to reduce inequality," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

The refunds can also be pivotal in helping New Yorkers "pay bills, get out of debt and save for their future" added DCA Commissioner Julie Menin.

(Sheila Anne Feeney)