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Prepare to E-file: Tax season begins Monday

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has announced that income tax filing season begins Monday.

Ninety-two percent of New York taxpayers e-filed in 2016.

“E-filers typically receive a refund twice as fast as paper-filers, and the tax software helps reduce errors and ensure that valuable credits are claimed,” said New York State Acting Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Nonie Manion. “E-filing is easy, fast, secure–and free for eligible taxpayers.”

Free-filing options

This year, the tax department has joined the Free File Alliance to offer New Yorkers more options to electronically prepare and file both their federal and New York State income tax returns at no cost.

New York taxpayers with household income of $64,000 or less in 2016 qualify to use Free File software. Taxpayers can start preparing for tax season now by reviewing the IRS guide on how to get started and gathering the documents and information needed to prepare their return.

In addition to the Free File software available through www.tax.ny.gov, the tax department is hosting 54 facilitated-self assistance sites throughout New York state during this filing season. Each site is staffed by tax department experts who are available to guide New York taxpayers with household income of $64,000 or less through the tax preparation and e-filing software at no cost. To learn more about the program and find a convenient location, visit www.tax.ny.gov/fsa.

Tax credits

All New York taxpayers–filing single or jointly–should check their eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC can reduce the amount of taxes owed or provide a substantial refund.

EITCs are refundable federal, New York state, and New York City credits for working taxpayers. The maximum credits increase annually and vary based on factors including family income and the number of children. For tax year 2016, the maximum total of federal, state, and New York City EITC credits is $8,463 (for a family with three children) — a $36 increase over tax year 2015.

In addition to specific income requirements, taxpayers must meet other criteria, such as having a valid Social Security number.

Taxpayers must also file a tax return, even if they don’t owe any tax or aren’t otherwise required to file.

The NYS Family Tax Relief Credit is also available to qualified taxpayers with dependent children under the age of 17. The credit, available through tax year 2016, is $350.

File before deadline

The deadline to file 2016 tax returns and pay any tax due is Tuesday, April 18, rather than the traditional April 15 date.

April 15 falls on a Saturday this year and Emancipation Day–a legal holiday in Washington, D.C.–will be observed on that Monday, which pushes the nation’s filing deadline to April 18.

Under the tax law, legal holidays in the District of Columbia affect the filing deadline across the nation.

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