There is an alternative way for residents in the Bronx, the city and the state of New York to file their taxes – affordably, safely and in a timely fashion.
On Wednesday, February 18, Governor Cuomo announced the launch of an expanded network of free tax filing assistance sites across New York, which includes the opening of three FSA, or facilitated self-assisted, tax preparation locations in the Bronx.
The three locations include Eastchester Library, 1385 E. Gun Hill Road, Melrose Library, 910 Morris Avenue and Mott Haven Library, 321 E. 140th Street, just off of Alexander Avenue.
Each of the state’s FSA sites, which are staffed by the State Department of Taxation and Finance tax experts, who are IRS-trained and certified, are available to residents and families who earned less than a household gross income of $60,000 last year.
Last year, more than 70% of the 10 million New Yorkers filed their taxes with a tax preparer, which is both expensive and risky, considering that a tax filing can cost hundreds of dollars and that not all ‘tax preparers’ are registered with the IRS and the NY Tax Department.
However, FSA sites ensure that tax payers can now electronically file their taxes safely with the right assistance. Select FSA sites also offer staff who can speak in foreign languages, such a Chinese, Spanish or Russian, which will greatly benefit the city and state immigrant population. The FSA locations at the Eastchester and Melrose libraries offer staff fluent in Spanish.
Appointments at all FSA sites are recommended, but walk-ins are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
“By helping hard-working families and individuals file their taxes, we’re ensuring that more people can get their taxes done on time and accurately,” said Cuomo. “We want to help cut down on confusion – and by enhancing free access at dozens of key assistance centers across the state, more families and individuals can maximize their refund.”
The new FSA sites will also compliment previously-existing locations, as well as previously-existing VITA, or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, locations, which offer free tax assistance to residents who earn $53,000 or less, people with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speaking taxpayers.
Currently, there are 200 VITA locations throughout the five boroughs, and more than 800 locations in New York State where individuals can visit to get their federal and state returns e-filed for free.
“To support taxpayers, we have many employee volunteers helping New Yorkers do their taxes accurately at no cost,” said Nonie Manion, executive deputy commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. “Not only do taxpayers prepare their taxes free of charge, but they’ll learn how to do it themselves for future years.”