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Department of Taxation and Finance

Filing tips

Keep in mind our tips when filing returns and credit forms.

File and pay electronically

Electronically filed returns are more accurate than paper-filed returns. Additionally, most New Yorkers who electronically file their returns can receive their refunds up to two weeks sooner than paper filers. See Free File your income tax return and Make a personal income tax return payment online to learn about our free electronic filing and payment options.

Request electronic communications from the department

The best way to communicate with the Tax Department about your return is to open an Online Services account and request electronic communications for both Bills and Related Notices and Other NotificationsLog in to (or create) your Individual Online Services account. 

Use direct deposit

Have your refund directly deposited into your bank account and receive your refund up to a week faster! Be sure to double check the routing and account numbers for your account. See Direct deposit of your income tax refund to learn more.

Use New York's free tax assistance 

If your income in 2020 was $72,000 or less, you qualify to receive free virtual (online only) tax assistance from the department. We can help you electronically prepare and file your 2020 federal and state income tax returns at no cost.

See Free tax assistance sites for more information.

Always file on time

To avoid penalties and interest, file on time—even if you can't pay in full; the penalties are much higher for late filing than late payment. If you can’t file on time, see Apply for an extension (on or before the filing deadline).

Declare all income

All income for full-time, part-time, temporary, or supplemental employment is subject to income tax. If you had multiple employers during the year, be sure to provide information for every W-2 you received. Failure to include all sources of income may result in substantial delays in processing your return.

If you’re claiming a dependent, review the eligibility requirements

Use the IRS’ interactive tool Whom may I claim as a dependent? to help you determine whether you can claim your dependent on your income tax return.

Only claim credits you can provide documentation for (if asked)

Income tax credits can increase your refund or reduce the taxes you owe—but you should only claim credits you can provide documentation for. See Recordkeeping for individuals to learn what documentation counts as proof of your eligibility to claim certain credits and deductions.

Sign and date the paper return

You (and your spouse, if you file jointly) must sign your return. If you hire a tax preparer to file your return, the preparer must also sign the return.

Check your refund status online

Wondering when you'll receive your New York State refund? Check your refund status online. Statuses are updated daily, and you'll know the time frame for receiving your refund.

Thoroughly review your return before you submit it

Errors will increase the processing time and can significantly delay your refund. Look for the most common filing errors before you submit your return, such as:

  • failing to enter whole dollar amounts;
  • using brackets to show a loss: write -5 instead of [5];
  • entering withholding and estimated tax on the wrong lines;
  • forgetting to enter or incorrectly entering Social Security or identification numbers (if the identification number on your Form W-2 is wrong, contact your employer to obtain a corrected form);
  • using incorrect postage on your envelope;
  • failing to indicate if you maintained living quarters in New York City;
  • failing to include the total amount of tax withheld during the year;
  • failing to include New York City and Yonkers tax, if applicable;
  • failing to report the income information on every Form W-2 you received for the year (if you had multiple employers, you should have received multiple W-2s);
  • failing to include unemployment income;
  • failing to add back the federal deduction of up to $10,200 for unemployment; and
  • entering an incorrect mailing address.

If you make estimated tax payments, review your payment history

Before you file your return, review your estimated tax payments through your Individual Online Services account to ensure you are reporting the correct amount on your return. Reporting the correct amount reduces filing errors that can delay or reduce your refund. See Review your tax account balance before you file for more information.

Keep a copy of your New York State income tax return for your records

Keep copies of your return and any books, records, schedules, statements, or other related documents for at least three years after you file your return.


Resources

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