Tax Day is coming up on Monday, April 18.
There's a lot of free tax preparation and assistance that you can take advantage of in New York City, especially if you're a lower-income or elderly New Yorker. Here are some the organizations offering free instruction to make filing a little easier.
► New York Public Library
Many NYPL branches offer computers and IRS-trained volunteers to help you file basic income tax returns for free. You can check out the list of participating libraries, what kind of services they offer, and their hours here. The Brooklyn Public Libraries also offer assistance at a number of locations, as do 11 Queens Library locations.
Libraries labeled “E-file” only offer computers to file taxes online with some help from a tax assistant; those labeled AARP and VITA also offer an IRS-trained volunteer to guide you through the process. Call the library branch before visiting to learn requirements and other details.
Public libraries are hosting many free tax assistance and preparation programs over the next few weeks. Check out the NYPL's full schedule here. Some of them have income eligibility requirements — call the branches for more details.
Tax help is available until April 15.
► NYC Government Agencies
Lower-income New Yorkers finally get a break this tax season. Individuals without children who earn $30,000 or less annually and individuals with children who earn $54,000 or less annually, can go to more than 200 free tax preparation sites in New York City. Some sites also offer assisted self-preparation help for those making less than $62,000. You should check the income eligibility requirements for the specific sites you want to use, however, as some sites differ in their requirements.
The sites feature any combination of in-person, drop-off, or assisted self-preparation services. If you make an in-person appointment, an IRS-certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer will help you file your taxes. For drop-off, you can drop off all necessary tax documents at a site and pick them up later completed. For assisted self-preparation services, you can have an IRS-certified preparer help you do your taxes online.
► H&R Block
The well-known chain H&R Block offers a lot of potentially useful and free services beyond an appointment with a professional.
They have a "free" edition for filing taxes online — but with a $30 online state fee added — that guides users through the filing process with a step-by-step Q&A, unlimited advice from a tax professional, an accuracy review before filing, and a “refund reveal” aiming to maximize your refund amount.
If you don’t want to use an H&R Block product, but just want advice, they have a lot of potentially helpful information on their website. Their “Get Answers” tab features explanatory tax articles, an extensive Q&A page sorted into different categories, and free tax calculators (which can estimate your withholdings and predict how health care laws may impact you).
If you want to avoid the stressful tax season flailing next year, you can also take a tax preparation class with H&R Block this summer. The cost of each class may vary by location.
► Food Bank New York City
Individuals who make $54,000 or less with dependents or $30,000 or less without dependents can qualify for the Food Bank’s free income tax services. Filing taxes is especially important for the working poor, who can earn back refunds and credits, including the Earned Income Credit Tax that’s worth up to $8,293, according to Food Bank. The tax preparation sites are equipped with different degrees of service — some of them help you in-person and some help you file remotely.
Check out their map of all their free tax preparation sites. Orange flags represent tax preparation sites, and orange flags represent smaller virtual sites.
► VITA and TCE sites
Many of the free tax relief services come through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) government agencies. VITA generally helps people who earn $54,000 or less, people with disabilities, and limited English speaking taxpayers. TCE serves all people, but particularly those 60 years and older, and specializes in retirement and pension-related concerns. Clients can go to a local VITA or TCE site and receive tax preparation or assistance from IRS-certified volunteers.
Use this locator to find all the VITA and TCE sites near you.
For a full list of the services that may be available at a VITA or TCE site, click here.