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State Agencies Join with Nonprofits to Launch Free Tax-Filing Sites in Downtown Albany

Locations in Empire State Plaza Concourse and North Pearl Street available to low and middle income taxpayers

January 31, 2013 - Several government agencies and non-profit organizations are partnering to sponsor two free tax-filing sites in Downtown Albany. Both locations are part of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, a nationwide effort that offers free tax preparation services and financial literacy programs to low and moderate income individuals and families.

A new Free Self-Assisted Tax Filing site on the Empire State Plaza Concourse provides two private kiosks for taxpayers to prepare and e-file their returns for free with assistance from IRS-certified volunteers from Albany Law School and staff of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. The services are available to taxpayers with incomes below $57,000.

The Concourse site is the result of a partnership among the United Way of the Greater Capital Region, the Creating Assets Savings and Hope (CA$H) Coalition, the Internal Revenue Service and the State Tax Department. The site is located on the North Concourse near the Key Bank branch, and open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to 4 pm throughout the tax filing season.

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) also offers free, full service tax preparation at its 40 North Pearl Street location. VITA volunteers are available Monday through Friday from 9 am to 3 pm to prepare and electronically file returns for taxpayers with incomes below $51,000.

“I commend the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the IRS, the United Way, the CA$H Coalition and all of our volunteers for their outstanding commitment to providing these sites for Capital District residents,” said Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox. “These kiosks are fast, free and easy, and each year the VITA program proves that the tax returns it prepares are significantly more accurate than the average return submitted to our department.”

"Tax preparation is a daunting task for many New Yorkers," explained OTDA Acting Commissioner Kristin M. Proud. "VITA, coordinated by the Internal Revenue Service, OTDA and the Department of Taxation and Finance, provides trained volunteers who help ease this burden on eligible low and middle income families at no cost. In addition to being skilled at completing the returns, the volunteers help to ensure that taxpayers receive all of the credits for which they are eligible, including the Earned Income Tax Credit.”

“Through its support of the CA$H Coalition and the tax refunds and credits participants receive through the VITA program, United Way strengthens the financial stability of families and the economy of the region,” said Beth Anne Smith, CA$H Program Director for United Way of the Greater Capital Region. “This year, the CA$H Coalition is proud to partner with the Tax Department on its first Self-Assisted Tax site. By helping taxpayers to prepare their own taxes with guidance from trained volunteers, the program will result in citizens that are more confident and more financially empowered.”

College Financial Aid Assistance for Low-Income Families

This year, upon filing their tax returns, low-income families with college-bound students will also be able to receive assistance in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - the first step to obtaining financial aid. Representatives of the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) will be available at the Concourse site to help complete the online FAFSA and answer questions about the student financial aid process.

“Financial aid is critical to increasing college access and success, and the Governor has recognized that fact by proclaiming January as New York State Student Financial Awareness Month,” said HESC Acting President Elsa Magee. “We encourage families to complete the FAFSA as early as possible in January to have the best chance of receiving all the financial aid for which they are qualified. By working together with our sister State agencies, the VITA program and the CASH Coalition, we can offer families an opportunity to receive multiple services in a single setting."

Free File from Home

Taxpayers with personal computers and whose incomes are below $57,000 can also Free File from home. In order to e-file both the federal and state returns for free, they must access Free File from the State Tax Department’s Web site – www.tax.ny.gov

Find VITA Sites

To find free VITA tax preparation sites near you and schedule an appointment:

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