Brindisi says the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance are teaming up to offer free income tax preparation and e-filing services at hundreds of sites across the state.
"This year, my office has received numerous complaints from people who do not have broadband access or free electronic tax filing programs. These free services will enable people to take advantage of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, where qualified preparers will file their returns electronically so that they can get their refund as quickly as possible."
Brindisi says anyone who makes $50,000 or less can qualify for VITA assistance, while residents earning $57,000 or less have the option of accessing free on-line tax filing services at the New York State Tax Department's website, www.tax.ny.gov.
VITA tax preparers will also advise participants if they can take advantage of Earned Income Tax Credits, which are refundable to eligible to qualifying low-to-moderate income filers. Those who qualify may get back some or all of the income tax that was withheld from their pay during the year. They may also get extra cash back from the State, or the IRS, if their EITC's are higher than the taxes they owe.
In addition to the EITC's, lower income tax filers may also be able to qualify for federal and state Child and Dependant Tax Credits if they pay for child or dependant care. The State's Noncustodial Parent Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit for noncustodial parents who are up to date in paying child support.
Brindisi says trained volunteers coordinate with the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and OTDA to make sure returns are filed quickly and accurately. Many VITA sites will be open until the tax filing deadline, which is April 17th.
To find out the location of VITA sites in your area, you can call the IRS's 'VITA hotline' free of charge at 1-800-906-9887, or use OTDA's website by going to www.otda.ny.gov, and clicking on the 'Free Tax Preparation and VITA sites link. In addition, taxpayers who want to prepare their own returns can visit the State Tax Department's website.