Weekly Feature

2012-03-01 / Business

NYS Tax Department provides filing tips

The New York State Tax Department has tools for filing 2011 tax returns. E-filing saves taxpayer dollars on processing costs associated with paper returns, nearly $50 million last year alone, according to a release from the department.

Taxpayers should check if they qualify for FreeFile, free tax preparation and e-filing software. Taxpayers can prepare and file online their federal and state income tax returns at no cost. Generally, those who earned $57,000 or less in 2011 may be eligible.

Last year, the total number of refunds issued in less than 30 days increased by 46 percent. Nearly 77 percent of refunds issued in less than 30 days were for e-filed returns, as compared with just 58 percent for paper-filed returns. To speed up a refund, taxpayers should e-file, and do it early in the filing season. Track the status of a refund on the Tax Department’s website.

There are multiple ways to receive refunds. Direct deposit to personal bank accounts remains the fastest and easiest method. This year, there is a new option – the prepaid debit card. The card is secure, easy to use and flexible. In most instances, there’s no charge for using the card to make cash withdrawals or purchases. Taxpayers who don’t have a bank account can avoid check-cashing fees by opting for a debit card.

This year, the filing deadline is April 17. This is due to April 15 falling on a Sunday and April 16 being Emancipation Day, which is observed in the District of Columbia. By law, District of Columbia holidays and federal holidays give taxpayers an extra day to file.

Gov. Cuomo’s overhaul of the tax code reduced the tax rate for at least 4.4 million middle-class taxpayers, as compared with 2011. Many taxpayers should already see fewer taxes withheld in their paychecks.

Most answers to questions can be found online. Taxpayers can also call 518-457-5181.

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