File Taxes For Free Or At Discount Prices
NY1's tax series continues with a look at how New Yorkers can get their taxes prepared and filed for free or at a deep discount. NY1's Money Matters reporter Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
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New Yorkers who pay to have someone do their taxes know it can be expensive.
"Anyone who has paid to have their taxes done before has paid $150, $200, even $300 or more," says Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz.
However, depending on one's income level, there are various ways to get taxes prepared for free or close to it. For one thing, anyone who makes under $58,000, which is approximately 70 percent of all taxpayers, can e-file using the IRS's Free File Program.
"We call this the 'do your taxes in your pajamas mode,'" says Mintz.
Those who make over $58,000 can still file for free using the IRS's Free File Fillable Forms. Unlike tax software, it is basically the same as the paper forms, but online. To find out more, visit freefile.irs.gov.
Those who prefer to have someone else file should get dressed and head to a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Center. This free tax prep service is available to families who make up to $49,000 or individuals who make below $25,000. The sites are operated through not-for-profit organizations like Seedco and manned by IRS-certified volunteers.
"All the tax preparers are trained in how to prepare taxes, but they are also educated on the various tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit," says Saroya Friedman-Gonzalez of Seedco.
Those who prefer to file their own taxes can still take advantage of a free city program that offers taxpayers a helping hand.
"We've set up 16 different centers around the city. Places like the Brooklyn Public Library or other places where you can go and do it online, but someone will be standing over your shoulder and they'll give you a little bit of help," says Mintz.
"If you're comfortable typing into a computer, you can do this," says Sarah Grace Partridge, a tax prep assistant for Food Bank For New York City. "I will sit here and if you bounce yourself out of the program, I will put you back in. If you get lost, I will find it."
Finally, this year the city is partnering with H&R Block to offer yet another low-cost option. Families making under $41,000 can contact the city for a coupon that will allow them to get their taxes prepared for $29. For more information on this program or to find a nearby free tax prep center, call 311.