The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today announced more than 185,400 taxpayers have filed both their federal and New York State personal income tax returns for free through the department’s website, tax.ny.gov. That is already nearly a 20% increase from last year with two months still to file ahead of the extended July 15, 2020 deadline. Additionally, the Free File program has saved New York taxpayers $39 million on tax preparation fees.
A Tax Department awareness campaign launched in January helped drive the spike in use. It included a targeted email to millions of eligible taxpayers, partnerships with other state agencies and community organizations, media interviews, and social media engagement. In addition, more than 85% of those who used the free tax preparation software to complete and file their returns reported that it was easy.
To be directed to the free filing options, simply click Free File your income tax return on the Tax Department’s website.
Each year, millions of New Yorkers qualify to file their personal income tax returns for free from the convenience of their homes. Taxpayers who earned $69,000 or less in 2019 are eligible to file both their federal and New York State income tax returns by using the Free File software available online.
To ensure you are not charged a fee, you must go to the Tax Department’s website to complete your return. You’ll save preparation fees, prevent costly errors, and ensure that you receive any refund you are owed in the most efficient way possible.
The Tax Department has produced a series of video tutorials to assist New Yorkers with the tax return filing process. Topics range from gathering the necessary documents to choosing the right software. You can view the videos at our Get ready to e-file your income tax return webpage.
“We urge eligible taxpayers to take advantage of the Free File program—an especially important resource now during this time of social distancing,” said New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt. “The available tax preparation software guides them through the process and helps ensure they do not overlook beneficial tax credits and deductions.”
Tax filing tips
Prepare and file your return electronically. E-filing speeds processing times so you receive your refund sooner, reduces errors and subsequent requests for additional information, and is more secure than sending your return through the mail.
Have driver licenses handy. You must provide driver license information for you and your spouse. This guards against fraudulent returns and erroneous refunds claimed by identity thieves.
Be sure to provide correct social security numbers for you, your spouse, and your dependents to prevent processing and refund delays.
Choose direct deposit as your refund method. To do this, simply check direct deposit on your tax return, then be sure to enter your correct bank account and routing numbers. When you combine the power of e-file and direct deposit, you can receive your New York State tax refund up to two weeks sooner than if you filed on paper and requested that a refund check be mailed to you.
Check the status of your refund online. The Check your Refund application is the fastest, most convenient way to determine when to expect your refund. It is available 24/7 and provides the same information available to Tax Department phone representatives.
Report estimated tax payments accurately. Create an Online Services account at the Tax Department website and you will be able to pay estimated tax electronically, check your balances, and review your payment history.
Include all required forms and schedules. Paper filers must include Form IT-2, Summary of W-2 Statements.
Include the information that shows eligibility for any claims for credits or deductions. Paper filers must attach supporting documentation to their return, which is another reason we encourage the switch to e-filing; the tax preparation software automatically includes this information.
Tax preparation software does the math for you automatically. If you are doing your own math, double check your calculations.
If you do forgo the simplicity and convenience of direct deposit, make sure your mailing address is correct when requesting a refund check by mail. Any error can delay the delivery of your refund.
Reminder: The Tax Department has extended the due date for New York State personal income tax returns to July 15, 2020. The original due date was April 15, 2020. See Tax Department response to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for additional information.