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IRS Direct File: Report shows NY tax refunds are being maximized thanks to new tool

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

A new report finds New Yorkers are getting the most out of their tax filings, thanks to a new resource.

The Internal Revenue Service’s free, online Direct File Tool walks people through an interview to help filers claim tax breaks they’re eligible for.

One goal of this tool is to close what’s known as the “tax credit uptake gap.”

Liza Schwartzwald, director of economic justice and family empowerment with the New York Immigration Coalition, said people often don’t claim credits they’re entitled to – like the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

“They may not know they need to file for them in particular ways,” said Schwartzwald. “They may not know they’re even eligible. They may be lower-income earners and think, ‘You know maybe if I don’t owe taxes this year, I don’t owe very many taxes, well maybe, you know, I don’t need to file or maybe I don’t know how to file, or maybe it’s too expensive for me to figure out how to file.'”

Along with the benefits for families, this tool can benefit the state too. As more people can file their taxes, this creates additional tax revenue.

For now, IRS Direct File is a pilot program in New York, but a nationwide roll-out is estimated for 2029.

In 2029, the report predicts each filer will save $160 in filing fees – and countless hours on their taxes, totaling $11 billion annually between the two.

But, as beneficial as the tool has been, the program is at risk of falling victim to politics.

The recent federal budget includes a $20 billion dollar IRS funding cut. Adam Ruben – the campaign vice president and vice president for political strategy with the Economic Security Project – said beyond this, deserved or not, the agency has to rebuild its reputation.

“A lot of people have had bad experiences with the IRS, or get an IRS letter in the mail, and it makes them very nervous,” said Ruben. “And so, I think the IRS has a trust deficit that they need to overcome. I feel optimistic that Direct File is a powerful tool to doing this.”

He added that IRS Direct could help boost the agency’s image.

As the program grows, the report shows it can spare more than 400,000 people from having to undergo an IRS correction proceeding or audit.

Categories: New York StateNews