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Income tax return tips for last-minute filers

The deadline for filing personal income tax is

The deadline for filing personal income tax is fast approaching. Deadline day is Monday, April 18, 2016. Credit: iStock

As the clock ticks down to Monday’s deadline for filing personal income tax, the state Department of Taxation and Finance offered some tips to the 2.5 million taxpayers who have yet to file returns.

New Yorkers have free online tax preparation options, said state Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Jerry Boone, and the tips released Wednesday are designed to smooth the filing process and help ensure filers get the credits and refunds they deserve.

The tips released on Wednesday include:

  • E-file: Join the more than 90 percent of New Yorkers who electronically file. E-filed returns are 20 times less likely to have an error, enabling taxpayers to receive their refunds up to twice as fast compared with those who file on paper.
  • File free: Individuals and families who earned less than $62,000 can prepare and file their state and federal income tax returns for free at or at one of the 85 tax assistance sites. Tax Department volunteers can guide filers through the user-friendly software at certain locations. Visit
  • Claim the credits you deserve: The Internal Revenue Service estimates that about 430,000 eligible New Yorkers fail to claim their Earned Income Tax Credits. For tax year 2015, the federal, state and New York City credit can add up to as much as $8,427 (for a family with three children earning $53,267). Information on the credit and others, including the child and dependent care credit and college tuition credit, is at the website’s credit page.

Other tips include using direct deposit for refunds, checking the status of a refund online and being able to contact the agency’s center (518-457-5181), which is open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on this Saturday.

Also, rather than file in a rush, filers can request an automatic six-month extension before the due date.

The extension doesn’t provide more time to pay taxes that are owed, however; the agency said those requesting an extension should be prepared to pay an estimated amount of tax owed.

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