Tips For Filing Your 2011 Tax Form

Below are some tips to help you file and get your refund faster for the 2011 tax filing season!

If you have not already, try E-File this year!

New Yorkers are increasingly e-filing their New York returns.  Not only is e-filing convenient but it saves taxpayers money on processing costs associated with paper returns, nearly $50 million last year alone.

Tax Tip: Check if you qualify for FreeFile, free tax preparation and e-filing software. With FreeFile, you can prepare and file online your federal and state income tax returns at no cost!  Generally, those who earned $57,000 or less in 2011 may be eligible. Visit the New York State Tax Department’s website for eligibility requirements.

Do you want faster refunds?

Last year, the total number of refunds issued in less than 30 days increased by 46%. Nearly 77% of refunds issued in less than 30 days were for e-filed returns, as compared with just 58 % for paper-filed returns.

Tax Tip: To speed up a refund, e-file, and do it early in the filing season. You can track the status of a refund on the Tax Department’s website.

Tax Help

Each year, the Tax Department publishes “Instructions for Form IT-201.” In addition to providing straightforward tax filing instructions, the booklet offers helpful guidance.

Tax Tip: Look at tax credit eligibility. There are over two dozen different tax-saving credits. Some credits may be new to some taxpayers. There are credits for college tuition, long-term care insurance and solar energy systems. The earned income tax credit continues to be available to low to moderate income working individuals and families who qualify.

New Refund Option – Debit Cards

There are multiple was to receive refunds. Direct deposit to personal bank accounts is always the fastest and easiet method.  But this year, there is a new option – the pre-paid debit card. This card is secure, easy to use and flexible. In most cases, there’s no charge for using the card to make cash withdrawals or purchases.

Tax Tip: Taxpayers who don’t have a bank account can avoid check-cashing fees by opting for a debit card.

Marriage Equality

The Marriage Equality Act, which took effect in July of 2011, provides that all marriages, whether of same or different-sex couples, will be treated equally under the laws of New York State. This year marks the first time in our state’s history that same-sex married couples will file jointly.

To file New York State returns, same-sex married couples should complete, but not submit, a federal return (including all credit forms, schedules, and other attachments) as married. They should then transfer the information from the federal return to properly complete the New York State return. Then each same sex spouse should individually file with the IRS to meet the federal government’s requirement.

Tax Tip: E-filing (including FreeFile) can simplify the process for same-sex married couples. Most tax preparation software programs will prompt taxpayers with questions that will accommodate the different federal and state requirements.

Make note of the different filing deadline this year

This year, the filing deadline is April 17. This is due to April 15 falling on a Sunday and April 16 being Emancipation Day, which is observed in the District of Columbia. By law, District of Columbia holidays and federal holidays give taxpayers an extra day to file.

Free In-Person Tax Preparation

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are open across the State to help individuals and families with an annual income of $50,000 or less prepare and file their income tax returns free of charge. Visit the New York State Tax Department’s website to find a location including days and hours of operation.

Things to watch out for next year

For the 2012 tax season, New Yorkers will be filing their income taxes under the lowest tax brackets for middle class taxpayers in 58 years. Governor Cuomo’s overhaul of the tax code reduced the tax rate for at least 4.4 million middle class taxpayers, as compared with 2011. Many taxpayers should already see less tax withheld in their paychecks.

Questions

Most answers to questions can be found on-line. Taxpayers can also call 518-457-5181.

Tips are from the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.



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