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5 Million Outstanding Tax Returns and 3 Weeks to Go! - 900 Free Tax Preparation Sites Available to Low and Middle-Income New Yorkers

Appointments still available at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites prior to April 15th

March 25, 2015 - Two state agencies joined with local organizations today to remind eligible New Yorkers there is still time to get free tax assistance at hundreds of locations across the state. In the three weeks remaining until the April 15 income tax deadline, half of New York taxpayers – 5 million individuals and families – will be filing their returns.

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance also highlighted tax credits that can provide a significant financial boost to low-income working families.

At the more than 800 free tax preparation sites sponsored by the IRS and AARP, New Yorkers with annual incomes below $53,000 can have their taxes prepared by a trained volunteer at no charge. In addition, this year the Tax Department is sponsoring 80 sites where New Yorkers can use software to prepare their taxes with onsite assistance by Tax Department personnel.

“We encourage the millions of New Yorkers who will be filing their taxes in the next three weeks, to consider free tax preparation options,” said OTDA Executive Deputy Commissioner Sharon Devine. “By completing their tax return through a free site, New Yorkers will receive all the tax credits they deserve, while avoiding the cost of using a paid tax preparer.”

“If you’re comfortable using software to prepare your own taxes and your income is under $60,000, visit www.tax.ny.gov to do your taxes at no cost,” said incoming Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Kenneth Adams. “If you prefer more hands-on assistance, you can be confident that the trained volunteers at the hundreds of free sites statewide are well-prepared to help you.”

At the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites — coordinated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) — and the AARP sites, trained volunteer preparers ensure that all who are eligible receive Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) and other tax credits, which can mean several thousand dollars to low-income families. Last year alone, EITC was claimed by 1.8 million New Yorkers with an estimated combined Federal, State and New York City payout of more than $5 billion.

EITC benefits vary based on income, family size and filing status. Eligible families with three or more children could receive up to $8,293 in Federal, State and New York City credits. But just four out of five eligible workers claim the EITC, according to the IRS.

There are numerous other tax credits low-income working families may qualify for, such as the Federal and State child tax credits, Federal and State child and dependent care credits, and the New York State Noncustodial Parent EITC.

“With less than a month left until the income tax filing deadline, the IRS encourages taxpayers to visit their local VITA site for free assistance with filing their 2014 tax return,” said Joseph Hayek, IRS Buffalo Territory Manager. “Another option this year, in trying to offer more taxpayers free assistance, the IRS has partnered with the New York State Tax Department to provide 80 Facilitated Self Assistance sites throughout the state.”

“The VITA program is essential because it provides a valuable community service that returns more than $14 million annually to hardworking local families and to the Capital Region economy with $6.3 million of that total coming back directly to Albany County taxpayers,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “Many of those who stop by for free tax preparation will leave with the promise of a refund that will help them meet basic needs for food and housing or will get them one step closer to reaching a long term financial goal. Thank you to all the volunteers, organizations and sites that participate.”

“VITA puts hundreds and often thousands of dollars back into family’s pockets each year, making it one of the best anti-poverty programs available,” Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said. “The VITA program helped residents in Albany County receive $6.3 million in deserved tax refunds last year, and the efforts by both these State agencies will help bring back millions to our local economy again this year.”

“Even though April 15 is right around the corner, there are still several local options for low- and moderate-income individuals and families across the greater Capital Region to complete their tax returns for free,” said David Galin, Program Director, CA$H Coalition, United Way of the Greater Capital Region. “As the largest VITA site in the CA$H Coalition of the Greater Capital Region, we are extremely proud of our partnership with OTDA, and hope that whether at OTDA or our 27-plus other VITA sites across the greater Capital Region, taxpayers take advantage of this great resource – not only to save themselves money, but to create peace of mind knowing that their taxes are completed by IRS-certified volunteers.”

Find a site near you

Hours and day of operation vary by site and many require making an appointment in advance. Visit the IRS’s VITA site locator, http://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/, or call 800-906-9887, to find a VITA site near you.

For more information on the NYS Tax Department’s 80 free tax assistance sites, visit www.tax.ny.gov/fsa.

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