NYS and Feds encourage free tax filing

Posted at: 01/31/2013 2:36 PM
Updated at: 01/31/2013 5:16 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

ALBANY - For the first time, New York State has set up some curtained-off booths in the concourse of the Empire State Plaza.

Trained, qualified coaches are on hand to help you use supplied computers to fill out and file your federal and state tax returns.

"We're moving this up a step," said Beth Anne Smith of the United Way of the Greater Capital Region. "No longer will we be just doing their taxes for them. We're going to help people learn how to do their taxes on their own."

Both the Internal Revenue Service and New York State Taxation are pushing people to fill out and file their tax returns electronically.

The feds now offer a choice of 15 free sites for people with an Adjusted Gross Income below 57-thousand dollars. That's a lot of taxpayers.

"We feel there's 16 million taxpayers out there that would like to file their tax returns free of charge and this is one of our sites that we're going to start doing it with," said Joanne Passineau, Senior Tax Consultant with the IRS Albany office. 

There are also still numerous on-line sites and physical locations where others will fill out and compile your returns for a fee.

But both the State and IRS have made do-it-yourself electronic filing more user-friendly.

This year they're pushing to encourage more people to try the free options, especially low income wage earners who could be missing out on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) available only if they file.  

This credit sometimes returns money to filers even if they owe no money to the government.