Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the opening of the 2020 personal income tax filing season along with a dozen free tax filing assistance sites across New York State. Taxpayers who earned $69,000 or less in 2019 are eligible to file both their federal and New York State income tax returns at these locations at no cost. Eligible taxpayers may also conveniently prepare and file their returns for free by using tax preparation software available through the NYS Tax Department’s website.
“This valuable free service ensures that hardworking New Yorkers receive all the beneficial tax credits and deductions they may have otherwise overlooked,” Governor Cuomo said. “I encourage all New Yorkers who qualify to take advantage of this free resource and file before the April deadline.”
Free Tax Assistance Sites Across New York State
If your income is $69,000 or less, you’re eligible to file your federal and state taxes at one of the Tax Department’s free tax assistance sites across the state. Tax Department experts will be on hand to guide you through the tax preparation and filing software. At certain locations, they can assist taxpayers in multiple languages, including Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.
See free tax assistance sites for a list of locations and the necessary documents to bring with you.
The IRS and AARP also offer free tax filing services at locations statewide. If your income is $55,000 or less, AARP volunteers and certified IRS volunteers will help you prepare both federal and state returns at no cost. To locate volunteers near you, visit the IRS VITA information page.
Free Online Filing Options
Eligible taxpayers can access and use the same free software available at filing sites anytime from their computer, smartphone, or tablet at www.tax.ny.gov.
Taxpayers can click Free File on the Tax Department website to be directed to the tax preparation software. Using the software can reduce filing errors that delay return processing and refunds. It also helps ensure that taxpayers claim all the credits they deserve.
To ensure you’re not charged a fee for the tax preparation software, you must come through the Tax Department to complete your return.
E-filing is the best option. It’s safer and more efficient than sending paper returns through the mail. About 92% of all personal income tax returns in New York State are electronically prepared and filed. All returns, regardless of how they’re filed, undergo the same systematic review.
New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt said, “Millions of New Yorkers qualify to file their personal income tax returns for free at sites statewide or from the convenience of their homes online—saving preparation fees, preventing costly errors, and ensuring they receive any refund they’re owed in the most efficient way.”
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Mike Hein said, “Free tax assistance and free tax filing services allow low-income New Yorkers to avoid the unnecessary costs of using a paid preparer, while making sure they receive all the tax credits they deserve. These tax credits, especially the Earned Income Tax Credit, can provide thousands of dollars to eligible tax filers, significantly boosting their household budget.”
Tax filing tips
- Prepare and file your return electronically. They’re processed faster than paper returns, have fewer errors, and are more secure than returns sent through the mail.
- Have your driver licenses handy. You must provide driver license information for you and your spouse. This guards against fraudulent returns and erroneous refunds claimed by identity thieves.
- Be sure to provide correct social security numbers for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents to prevent processing and refund delays.
- Report estimated tax payments accurately. Create an Online Services account at the Tax Department website and you’ll be able to pay estimated tax electronically, check your balances, and review your payment history. Avoid processing delays, if you’re unsure of your estimated tax payments, contact the Tax Department.
- Include all required forms and schedules. Paper filers must include Form IT-2, Summary of W-2 Statements.
- Include the information that shows eligibility for any claims for credits or deductions. Paper filers must attach supporting documentation to their return, which is another reason we encourage the switch to e-filing; the tax preparation software automatically includes this information.
- Tax preparation software does the math for you automatically. If you’re doing your own math, double check your calculations.
- Choose direct deposit as your refund method. To do this, simply check direct deposit on your tax return, then be sure to enter your correct bank account and routing numbers. When you combine the power of e-file and direct deposit you can receive your New York State tax refund up to two weeks sooner than if you filed on paper and requested that a refund check be mailed to you.
- If you do forgo the simplicity and convenience of direct deposit, make sure your mailing address is correct when requesting a refund check by mail. Any error can delay you receiving your refund.
- We strongly recommend you e-file amended returns. The software will know exactly what’s required. If you’re filing an amended return on paper, complete it as if you are filing the return for the first time. You cannot file only the changes to the return. Submit all the forms relevant to the information in your amended return even if these forms were already included with the original return.
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