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Don’t Delay! New York State Tax Department Provides Tax Tips to Avoid Scams and Help Late Season Filers Useful Tax Department information helps taxpayers file on-time and avoid costly scams

For Release: Immediate,

For press inquiries only, contact: James Gazzale, 518-457-7377

Contact: Cary Ziter - (518) 457-7377

With the tax deadline fast approaching, Acting New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Kenneth Adams today offered tips to help last minute filers and avoid tax scams.

Tips for Last Minute Filers

 1.    File electronically - New Yorkers who "e-file" are 20 times less likely to have an error on their returns, and they can receive their refund up to twice as fast compared to filing paper returns.  If you earn under $60,000, you can file both your federal and state returns for free from the Tax Department's website - www.tax.ny.gov

 2.    Use New York's free tax assistance - Individuals and families earning $60,000 or less can file their state and federal income tax returns online and for free at any of the 80 Free Tax Assistance Sites statewide. Tax Department experts are on-site to help taxpayers through the process. You can also get free tax assistance at 800 sites sponsored by the IRS and AARP across New York State. To find a location near you call 211; in New York City call 311.

 3.    Get the credits you deserve - As many as two million New York taxpayers with incomes under $52,427 may qualify for Earned Income Tax Credits.  EITC is worth up to $8,293 for a family with three or more children. Other valuable credits to make sure you claim if you're eligible include the child and dependent care credit, Empire State child credit and college tuition credit.

 4.    Have your refund direct deposited - Receive your refund up to a week faster by having it deposited directly into your bank account. If you don't have a personal bank account, request your refund via a debit card.  If you hire a tax preparer, make sure your refund is deposited into your account - not the preparer's.

 5.    Claim a deduction for charitable contributions in honor of slain police officers - There's a new opportunity to help the families of two fallen police officers while increasing charitable deductions for 2014. President Barack Obama recently signed federal legislation - the Slain Officer Family Support Act - that extends the period for making deductible contributions to charities that support the families of New York Police Department Detectives Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, both of whom were murdered while on duty in December, 2014. Taxpayers can claim 2014 tax deductions for donations made by April 15, 2015 to charities that support these families.

 6.    Check your refund easily online - Wondering when you'll receive your New York State refund?  Save time and check your refund status at www.tax.ny.gov. Your refund status is updated daily, and you'll know the timeframe for receiving your refund.   You can also have this information sent straight to your inbox by signing up for email alerts.

 7.    Call during extended hours - To assist last minute filers with questions about their New York returns, the Tax Department's call center (518-457-5181) has extended hours through April 15th.  Representatives are available from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm Monday and Tuesday, and until 8:00 pm on Wednesday.

Tips to Avoid Tax Scams

 1.    Don't be fooled by threatening phone calls - Thieves posing as IRS agents use this time of year to prey on last-minute filers. Be sure you only give your personal information - including your social security number - to someone you trust. Remember, the NYS Tax Department and the IRS will always send you a letter before contacting you via phone or email.

 2.    Be cautious if you hire a tax preparer - Before you hire a tax preparer, you should ensure that he or she is registered with the IRS and New York State. You should also review a list of fees, and make sure he or she will sign your return.  Don't hire a tax preparer who asks you to sign a blank return, and be wary of high interest rates if you are offered a loan in advance of your refund.

 3.    Beware of phishing emails - Taxpayers are receiving emails with the IRS logo offering assistance in settling fake tax issues. The NYS Tax Department and IRS will NEVER request personal or financial information by email.

 4.    Avoid identity theft - Your tax return contains an abundance of personal information, including your social security number. To prevent your sensitive information from being compromised, only give it to a tax preparer you trust and regularly monitor your bank account for suspicious activity.

 5.    Question inflated refund claims - Beware if your tax preparer offers you an inflated refund, especially if he or she hasn't even looked at your information yet. You should also be wary of paying fees based on a percentage of the refund.

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