FAQs about NYC Free Tax Prep

Is “free” really free?
Yes! You will not be charged for any part of completing your return, including e-filing and direct deposit.

Will my return be done correctly?
Your IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparer will use software to ask you the right questions to ensure that your return is completed accurately. A second preparer double-checks every return to make sure that nothing is missed and you get the full refund you deserve. But, the first step to an accurate return is bringing all of your documents and records to your appointment.

Who are IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparers?
IRS certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparers are New Yorkers like you who go through training and testing to be able to complete certain tax forms and schedules. They understand taxes and know how to make sure that you get every credit and deduction available to you, like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and NYC Child Care Tax Credit (NYC CCTC).

What’s the difference between free tax prep and paid preparers?
Fees – Paid tax preparers can cost you hundreds of dollars in fees that take away from your refund. This is money that you’ve earned, but are giving away.

How much can I save with NYC Free Tax Prep?
It depends. On average, tax preparation fees are about $150 to $250 in New York. That’s about the same as two monthly MetroCards, three months of cell phone service, or five boxes of diapers.

Who can use NYC Free Tax Prep?
Anyone who lives or works in New York City can use an NYC Free Tax Prep site. Some sites have income limits and other eligibility requirements. In general, you must have earned $54,000 or less in 2017 to file in person at an NYC Free Tax Prep site or $66,000 to file online. Learn more at nyc.gov/taxprep. If you live outside of NYC, visit the IRS website to find an IRS VITA/TCE site near you or file online using My Free Taxes.

What if I need help after I file?
No matter how you file, NYC Free Tax Prep preparers answer questions all year round. If you have a question about your return or receive a letter from the IRS or the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, NYC Free Tax Prep preparers can help. They will explain the letter and let you know your options to get the issue resolved. This service is completely free.

I forgot to file or need to fix a return from a previous tax year. Can you help me?
Yes. Some NYC Free Tax Prep sites can help you complete your return for the 2016 tax year or correct a return for the 2016 tax year. They may also be able to help with additional years. Visit nyc.gov/taxprep to use our map to find a site. For tax years prior to 2016, please call the site to confirm.

Can NYC Free Tax Prep help me apply for or renew an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)?
Some NYC Free Tax Prep sites participate in the IRS Certified Acceptance Agent program and can help you complete your ITIN application or renewal. Visit nyc.gov/taxprep to use our map to find a site.

What is the EITC refund delay?
Due to the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act passed in 2015, the IRS must hold refunds for filers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until February 15. This law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund – even the part not coming from the EITC or ACTC. Visit the IRS website to learn more.

How can I become a volunteer preparer?
Orientation and training for preparers usually begins in November. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit the NYC Service website and search “Free Tax Prep” or contact New York Cares at tax.prep@newyorkcares.org for more information.

How do I bring an NYC Free Tax Prep site to my neighborhood?
Please email us at ofe.outreach@dca.nyc.gov and we’ll get back to you about hosting a site in your community.

What if I want to use a paid preparer? What should I look out for?
Make sure you know your rights. Ask for an estimate before they begin, read the fine print for any “advances” or “checks,” and double-check your return before you file.

Updated 12/21/2017