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Free Income Tax Assistance, Valuable Tax Credits, Available to Low-Income Workers

February 2, 2012 - The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today announced that eligible low-income New Yorkers can take advantage of free income tax preparation and e-filing services at hundreds of sites across New York State.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are open across the State to help individuals and families with an annual income of $50,000 or less prepare and file their income tax returns, free of charge, while making sure those eligible receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), refundable tax benefits that put money in people's pockets. The State's FreeFile service is also available for eligible New Yorkers to prepare and file their tax returns online.

"In this difficult economy it is especially crucial for low income working New Yorkers to receive this help," explained OTDA Executive Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin. "We want to make sure that all families who are eligible to receive EITC credits claim them and that they are aware of the free tax preparation services available that will enable them to receive the full amount of their refunds."

"The volunteers at VITA do an outstanding job preparing accurate tax returns," said New York State Tax Commissioner Thomas Mattox. "I also encourage taxpayers who want to prepare their own returns to visit the Tax Department's Website to review the qualifications for FreeFile."

VITA services are coordinated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and OTDA and are provided by trained volunteers who assist taxpayers by making sure tax forms are filled out and filed correctly and quickly. VITA sites are located all over the State, with many open through the April 17 tax filing deadline.

To find a VITA site in your community, call the IRS VITA hotline toll free at 1-800-906-9887, or for more information, go to otda.ny.gov and click on the "Resources for Working Families" link and scroll down to Free Tax Preparation and VITA Sites. VITA sites are searchable by visiting the New York State Tax Department's website at www.tax.ny.gov.

FreeFile is also available at the New York State Tax Department's website. Eligibility requirements vary, but generally the free on-line service is available to taxpayers earning $57,000 or less.

The federal, New York State and New York City EITCs are refundable tax benefits for working people with low or moderate incomes.

Workers who qualify for the EITCs and file Federal and State tax returns can get back some or all of the income tax that was withheld during the year. They may also get extra cash back from the IRS, New York State and New York City, if their EITCs are higher than the taxes they owe.

The EITCs are not the only tax credits that low- to middle-income taxpayers may be eligible for. The federal and State Child and Dependent Care Tax Credits may be available to working people who pay for child or dependent care. The State Noncustodial Parent Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit for noncustodial parents who are current in paying their child support obligations.

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