ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Tax filing season is underway, and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has begun processing income tax returns as of Monday. If your 2021 income is $73,000 or less, you can file your taxes for free using the department’s Free File software online.

Nearly 255,000 taxpayers took advantage of the free submission method last year, saving them over $50 million in preparation fees. “I encourage all eligible taxpayers to take advantage of Free File—a secure and efficient way to file and reap significant savings,” said Acting Commissioner Amanda Hiller. “Each year, more New Yorkers discover and extol the benefits of this service.”

In order to speed up your refund and avoid delays, the IRS recently offered five tips to taxpayers. According to their suggestions, it is best practice when filing taxes to use e-file and direct deposit, collect all documents ahead of time, use online resources before calling the IRS, and use free resources available to all those who may need help filing.

This year’s IRS tax filing season was backlogged, after an IRS worker shortage, an enormous workload from administering pandemic-related programs, and stalled legislation. Each would have given the agency billions of dollars for more expeditiously processing returns, but the combination of these factors will likely cause taxpayers a headache this filing season.

Three options exist for New Yorkers who file federal and state returns to file their returns for free: OnLine Taxes (OLT)TaxAct, and FreeTaxUSA, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the New York State Department of Tax and Finance (NYSDTF). The latest option, Free File, has shown great success among New York State taxpayers, such as Owen D from Albany:

For years, I paid someone else to do my taxes. Then I tried Free File. Now I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner. I’ll save $300 every year.”

When you’re ready to file, the Department of Taxation and Finance suggests you first gather information and documentation. If you received unemployment compensation, remember to request a Form 1099-G from the Department of Labor.

After you file, get the most up-to-date information about your refund and your return: use our online Check your refund status tool or, if necessary, call (518) 457-5149.