With the April 17 tax deadline just weeks away, here are some last-minute tips for New York taxpayers from the Internal Revenue Service.
Nearly 60,000 New Yorkers who failed to file an income tax return for 2008 are missing out on approximately $61 million in unclaimed refunds. To collect the money, they must file their 2008 returns with the IRS no later than April 17.
When a return is not filed, the law provides taxpayers with just a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. Half of those who could claim refunds would receive more than $686. IRS forms and publications are available on the IRS website.
Hundreds of free IRS volunteer tax help sites are open to assist taxpayers in preparing basic tax returns. The volunteer sites help prepare tax returns for older taxpayers, people with disabilities, non-English speaking individuals and other people who cannot afford professional assistance.
Tax volunteers can be found at convenient neighborhood sites – such as libraries, senior centers, or college campuses. For the nearest volunteer site in your area, visit the IRS's site and type VITA in the search box or call 1-800-906-9887.
“E-file is fast, it’s free and it’s safe," said IRS New York spokeswoman Dianne Besunder. "Last year, in New York, almost 7.4 million returns were e-filed,” she said.
For New Yorkers who make more than $57,000 or who are comfortable preparing their own tax return, there are free file fillable forms. It also must be accessed online.
Workers with low incomes can review their eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit to see if they qualify for tax relief. Last year in New York, nearly 1.7 million filers collected nearly $3.6 billion in EITC payments, Besunder said.
"The IRS estimates that four out of five eligible taxpayers claimed the credit last year,” Besunder said.
The IRS also cautions New Yorkers to watch out for tax scams.
“During tax season we see an increase in phishing scams using the IRS name and logo,” said Besunder. “The IRS never initiates contact with a taxpayer about their accounts through e-mail, text messages or other social media."
If you cannot file your return by the April 17 deadline, make sure to get a six-month automatic filing extension (until Oct. 15) by completing and filing Form 4868, or by e-filing Form 4868 using a personal computer, via a tax professional or you can use either IRS Free File option to file an extension.
Also, make sure to include a payment for the amount of estimated taxes owed as it is a filing extension not an extension to pay.