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NYS Tax Department: 57% increase in use of Free File program

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Tue, Aug 4th 2020 01:05 pm

More than a quarter-million New York taxpayers took advantage of free tax software for an estimated savings of over $51 million

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance announced the Free File program experienced a 57% increase in use this tax filing season. Over a quarter-million taxpayers took advantage of the free tax preparation and filing software available through the Tax Department website, saving New Yorkers more than an estimated $51 million in tax preparer and tax software expenses.

“We launched an aggressive campaign to promote awareness of the Free File program this year, resulting in a dramatic increase in program participation,” said New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt. “This program can save taxpayers hundreds if not thousands of dollars in tax preparation expenses, savings that are especially important as we recover from the pandemic’s economic toll.”

The awareness campaign included media engagement, radio and television interviews across the state, social media posts, video tutorials, and coordination with various community groups. The aim was to inform those eligible about this free and easy-to-use resource. About 90,000 more personal income tax filers used the Free File software this season, a 57% rise in usage from the prior season.

Additionally, Schmidt was joined by Department of Financial Services Superintendent Linda Lacewell to push for a modern tax filing system all New Yorkers could use to file their federal and state income taxes online for free. The pair recently penned an op-ed in the New York Daily News questioning why it doesn’t exist, saying this type of system is long overdue.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the department’s in-person filing assistance program was suspended. In response, the Tax Department quickly produced a series of video tutorials to help New Yorkers e-file from the convenience and safety of home. Topics ranged from gathering the necessary documents to choosing the right software.

View the videos at the “Get ready to e-file your income tax return” webpage.

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