New Yorkers with incomes under $57,000 can file their state and federal income taxes for free, but they have to do so through the state Department of Taxation and Finance website by the April 15 deadline, according to Camille Siano Enders, the state taxpayer rights advocate.
Many taxpayers try to file through other websites, such as those hosted by software companies or the Internal Revenue Service, and get charged for their New York return. In many cases, the charge isn’t made clear until the end of the process, she said.
There are several commercially available software programs for filing taxes that are available for free on the Tax Department’s website.
“More than half of the taxpayers in the state – more than 5 million people – are eligible for Free File,” Enders said in a statement. “The software is very user-friendly and can be accessed from any personal computer with Internet access.”
Low- and middle-income taxpayers can take advantage of free services at more than 400 locations statewide to prepare and file their state and federal income taxes. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is available to individuals and families with annual incomes of $51,000 or less.
VITA sites generally are located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Many of the sites ask taxpayers to make appointments. The IRS has a toll-free hotline at 800-906-9887.
The program is sponsored by the IRS in partnership with state agencies and local nonprofits. More than 3,500 volunteers are helping prepare taxes this year. Last year, VITA volunteers in New York prepared nearly 200,000 returns.
“VITA volunteers ensure that families receive all of the state and federal tax credits for which they are eligible,” state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Acting Commissioner Kristin M. Proud said in a statement. “These credits can mean thousands of dollars and provide financial stability for working individuals and families.”