FAQs about NYC Free Tax Prep

FAQs about NYC Free Tax Prep

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About the Services

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

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 2018 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.


About the Preparers

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 are up-to-date on recent tax law changes. They 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).


About the Sites

What kind of returns CANNOT be prepared at an NYC Free Tax Prep site?
In general, volunteer preparers at NYC Free Tax Prep sites CAN prepare most basic state and federal income tax returns, including itemized deductions, simple self-employment, amended returns, and prior-year returns.

Volunteer preparers CANNOT prepare more complex returns, which include:
  • Business income with more than $25,000 in expenses
  • Business income with net losses
  • Business income with deductions for inventory, depreciation, or employees
If you are unsure, please call the site to confirm if you can complete your return.

Many filers who cannot complete their return at an in-person site can complete their return online using My Free Taxes. This service has more forms than any other free tax preparation software – including if you file in multiple states, work freelance, have a side gig, or earn investment income. If you need help, experts are available to answer questions by phone, email, and chat.

What can I expect at an NYC Free Tax Prep site?
Every site is a little different. In general, your time at the site will begin with you answering an intake form to help your preparer complete your tax return accurately. Then, your preparer will use software, your intake form, and your documents to fill out the necessary forms and schedules. They will also ask you questions to make sure they have the correct information. After your return is completed, a second preparer will review the return to make sure it’s error-free. During busy times, you may have a long wait for this review. After your return is reviewed, it will be printed for you to sign and to keep for your records. At this time, you have a final opportunity to ask questions before signing authorization for the preparer to e-file your return for you. After your return is e-filed, it will be processed by the IRS computers. If there are any errors when the file is processed – such as a misspelled name – site management will contact you to resolve the error and then re-file the return.

Is childcare available at NYC Free Tax Prep sites?
Most NYC Free Tax Prep sites do not offer childcare. However, parents and guardians can bring their children to NYC Free Tax Prep sites while getting their tax return completed.

Can I make an appointment?
Some sites take appointments, and others are on a walk-in basis only. Please see site information on the map to see if appointments are available.

If you have an appointment at a site, please be on time. If you are unable to make your appointment, contact the site to let them know as early as possible. Sites that take appointments can fill up quickly and are often fully booked. If you are late for an appointment, the site may not be able to take you when you arrive and may not be able to schedule an alternate time for you.

Walk-in sites operate on a first-come, first-served basis and will have a waiting list if all the preparers are busy with other taxpayers. Wait times at walk-in sites can be lengthy, especially throughout the month of February and on weekends.

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


Prior-year Returns

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 2017 tax year or correct a return for the 2017 tax year. They may also be able to help with additional years. Use our map to find a site. For tax years prior to 2017, please call the site to confirm.


Help with ITINs

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. Use our map to find a site.


Refunds

What are my options for receiving my refund, and how soon can I expect it?
You can either have your refund direct deposited into a bank account or have it mailed to you as a check. Direct deposits typically arrive in 10-14 days while paper checks take an additional 1-2 weeks. For direct deposit, you must bring your routing number and account number to the tax site (typically, as a blank check). Please note: There will be a delay in receiving refunds until at least February 15, 2019 if you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. To check the status of your federal refund, visit irs.gov/refunds or download the IRS2Go Mobile App.

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 the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until at least February 15 each year. This law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund – even the part not coming from the EITC or ACTC. Visit the IRS website [link] to learn more. Visit the IRS website to learn more.


Help After Filing

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.


Volunteering

How can I become a volunteer preparer?
Orientation and training for preparers usually begins in November. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit nyc.gov/volunteertaxprep


Paid Preparers

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 12/20/2018