Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today joined with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), New York State agencies and numerous local organizations statewide to encourage low and middle-income taxpayers to take advantage of free services to prepare and file their income taxes as the filing deadline of April 15th approaches.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is available to individuals and families with an annual income of $51,000 or less. Taxpayers can have their federal and state taxes prepared and filed for free by IRS-certified volunteers at these locations.
"This year, more than 3,500 volunteers are giving their time and knowledge to help New Yorkers complete their tax returns for free," Governor Cuomo said.
"With the April 15th deadline approaching, I encourage those who haven't filed their taxes yet to visit one of more than 400 locations across the state for these free services."
"Not only does the VITA program save the cost of tax preparation and filing each year, but the returns prepared have a very high accuracy rate," said Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox. "We extend our sincere thanks to the thousands of volunteers and encourage taxpayers to take advantage of this program before the April 15 filing deadline."
"Working with the State of New York and local non-profit organizations helps the VITA program grow and strengthen each year," said Verlinda Paul, the IRS's Director of Stakeholder, Partnerships, Education and Communication.
"We appreciate the effort of all our partners and volunteers who provide help to those who really need it."
Last year, VITA volunteers in New York prepared nearly 200,000 returns, and they consistently receive high reviews from the taxpayers who use their services.
"When I heard about VITA, I was shocked to learn that I could have my taxes done for free by trained professionals," said Thomas Wildey, a taxpayer from Fairport. "The volunteers are very knowledgeable and they have several local offices that are easy to access."
"I was scared to do my own taxes this year, but this was a wonderful experience," said Rosanne Tucker of Troy who had her taxes prepared in the Empire State Plaza Concourse. "This was the first time I've been to a VITA site, and I'll definitely be back next year!"
"VITA volunteers ensure that families receive all of the state and federal tax credits for which they are eligible," said New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Acting Commissioner Kristin M. Proud. "These credits can mean thousands of dollars and provide financial stability for working individuals and families."
The VITA program, sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service in partnership with state agencies and local non-profit organizations, operates more than 400 VITA sites statewide.
"United Ways work with 2-1-1 call centers and community partners to sponsor more than 150 VITA sites across the state," said Mary A. Shaheen, Vice President of United Way of New York State. "As part of the program, we also educate taxpayers about the Earned Income Tax Credit, which provides significant refunds that are then spent locally -- a win/win for the recipients and the business community."
"We've sponsored the Free Tax Assistance Program for New Yorkers since 2002," said Margarette Purvis, President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City. "We're grateful for our volunteers who have prepared more than 300,000 tax returns and helped low-income New Yorkers receive more than half a billion dollars in tax refunds and credit."
VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations. Many of these sites ask for appointments prior to a visit.
"Free File" from home if your income is under $57,000
Taxpayers with personal computers and incomes below $57,000 also have the option to file their income taxes for free from home. The Free File software is user-friendly and guides taxpayers through the state and federal returns, while helping to ensure that users claim the credits for which they're eligible.
To avoid charges for their New York State tax returns, the Tax Department notes that taxpayers must access Free File from the link on its home page at www.tax.ny.gov.
Because VITA sites and the Free File program submit state and federal returns electronically, those who qualify for a refund will get it faster than if they filed paper forms. E-filing is the fastest, safest way to file tax returns and receive refunds.
For more information
Find a VITA site near you by visiting http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Find-a-Location-for-Free-Tax-Prep or calling IRS' toll-free hotline at 1-800-906-9887
Learn more about FreeFile and Income Tax Credits at www.tax.ny.gov