To advocate free services for low-to-moderate income taxpayers, top officials from the New York State Tax Department and theUnited Way of Northern New York met today with local non-profit and community groups in Watertown, NY for the first ever North Country Community Outreach Tax Summit. 

The summit was led by New York State commissioner of taxation and finance Thomas H. Mattox and Bob Gorman, the CEO and president ofUnited Way of Northern New York, which sponsored the event.

“The New York State Tax Department is committed to helping taxpayers through our outreach programs,” said commissioner Mattox, in a statement. “Community advocates help us to expand our reach to ensure taxpayers are receiving valuable credits and taking advantage of services to improve financial literacy and overall fiscal well-being.”

Free tax preparation was discussed at the Summit, which is notably available to families and individuals in New York with annual incomes under $52,000.  Additionally, theOffice of the Taxpayer Rights Advocatewas highlighted, which looks to assist individuals looking to overcome tax burdens and issues, also at no charge.

The Earned Income Tax Credit(EITC), which provides directly to low and moderate-income taxpayers, was also discussed, as an estimated one in four eligible taxpayers fail to claim it.EITC benefitsvary by income, family size, and filing status, but have a maximum benefit of $7,800 (outside of New York City.)

Deputy commissioner for professional responsibility Richard Ernst advised participants to also check the Department’ssiteto ensure that a paid tax preparer is registered, if they are required to be.

“Roughly seven million income tax returns are completed by paid preparers each year, and most of those preparers are upright professionals,” Ernst said, quoted in a statement. “Where there are practices that victimize taxpayers, however, we want to investigate and protect taxpayers.”