Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today encouraged eligible low-income New Yorkers to take advantage of free income tax preparation and e-filing services at hundreds of sites across the state, with the April 15 filing deadline fast approaching. The Governor also highlighted a range of tax credits available that can put additional money in the pockets of low-income workers.
"We're making it as easy as possible for hard-working families to file their taxes and keep more of what they've earned," said Governor Cuomo. "While we keep fighting to lower taxes for all New Yorkers, we want low-income families to take advantage of the services and benefits they're entitled to now. Millions of New Yorkers are eligible for tax credits and deductions -- and to have their taxes done for free by professionals trained to help them get more of their money back."
Between the IRS and AARP, more than 700 free tax preparation sites are staffed by trained volunteers across New York State. IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are open to individuals and families with an annual income below $52,000. AARP Tax-Aide sites have no income limits. The volunteers also make sure those who are eligible are filing to receive Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), refundable tax benefits that tens of thousands of low-income working New Yorkers receive each year.
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Kristin M. Proud said, "It is important that working people know there is still time to file their income tax returns and that there is free help available to assist them. By utilizing a free tax preparation site, they can avoid the unnecessary costs of using a paid tax preparer, while making sure they receive all the tax credits they have earned."
New York State Tax Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox said, "We're grateful to the multitude of volunteers who devote their time to help tens of thousands of New Yorkers with their tax needs each year. Not only are their services free, but they are known for being highly accurate with a very low rate of errors on the returns they complete. Visit the IRS and AARP websites to find the site nearest to you."
Senator Neil D. Breslin said, "Many low-income New Yorkers may not know that help is available to help them file their tax returns. The IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites offer this service free of charge. By using this free service people can have more money to provide for their families."
Assembly Member Patricia Fahy said, "With just under a few weeks to file one's taxes, I urge those who qualify for free tax preparation to take advantage of these services and to do so as early as possible. The volunteers who assist with these efforts are adept in identifying available tax credits for hard working families to take advantage of."
Assembly Member John T. McDonald III said, "I am pleased to join with Governor Cuomo to encourage our residents in the Capital Region to take action today to file their income taxes and to avail themselves of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Thanks to the efforts of our VITA volunteers and the CA$H coalition, working class families are able to avail themselves of financial resources that they have earned and either use those funds to meet obligations, save for future expenses or support our economy. Surely a win-win situation for those that participate."
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, "Free tax help by qualified preparers is something I encourage everyone to use. The CA$H Coalition of the Greater Capital Region did 3,400 returns in Albany County last year which brought back $5.7 million in refunds. That's money residents will use to pay the rent or buy groceries locally and be able to put some into a savings account for the future. VITA is a win-win."
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, "We know the tremendous impact these tax credits can have in helping so many families right here in Albany, and throughout New York State. I join the Governor in encouraging anyone who may be eligible to seek out this free tax assistance before the April 15 deadline.
Joseph Hayek, IRS Buffalo Territory Manager, said, "With less than a month left until the income tax filing deadline, the IRS encourages taxpayers to visit their local VITA site for free assistance filing their return."
Richard S. Zazycki, CA$H (Creating Assets, Savings and Hope) Coalition of the Greater Capital Region Co-Chair, said, "The CA$H Coalition of the Greater Capital Region has a 10-year history of being dedicated to assisting individuals and families to increase their financial self-reliance. CA$H partners and stakeholders provide support and access to community resources, free tax preparation, financial education and asset building activities and strategies."
Every county in New York State has at least one VITA or AARP site. Hours and days 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 dial 211 to find an AARP site in your community.
Federal, State and New York City EITC benefits vary based on income, family size and filing status. Eligible families with three or more qualifying children may receive up to the maximum benefit -- $8,159 in Federal, State and New York City credits. Last year, the EITC was claimed by 1.8 million New Yorkers who received nearly $5 billion in benefits.
There are a range of other tax credits low-income working families may be entitled to, such as the Federal and State child tax credits, the Federal and State child and dependent care credits, and the New York State Noncustodial Parent EITC.
Not only can many New Yorkers get their taxes done for free at VITA sites, but if they have a bank account and use direct deposit, they may receive their federal refund within as few as 10 days. By using direct deposit, and receiving their refund more quickly, people can avoid the need to borrow against their refund with high-cost loans called Refund Anticipation Loans, allowing them to keep more of the money they have earned.