How to file a New York state tax return

Aerial view of the Statue of Liberty in the foreground, the New York city skyline behind her.Image: Aerial view of the Statue of Liberty in the foreground, the New York city skyline behind her.

In a Nutshell

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York has extended its filing and payment deadline for 2019 income taxes to July 15, 2020.  
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This article was fact-checked by our editors and Christina Taylor, MBA, senior manager of tax operations for Credit Karma. It has been updated for the 2019 tax year.

If you owe taxes in New York, it’s important to know what your filing options are, as well as what types of deductions and credits you can claim.

That’s especially the case if you live in New York City or Yonkers, where there may be other tax considerations to keep in mind. In this guide, you’ll learn all that and more, including what happens if you can’t pay your bill and how to track a New York state tax refund.

The basics of New York state tax

Before you get ready to file your Empire state tax return, learn about your filing options, deadlines and available tax breaks.

Taxing body

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance regulates taxes for the state. If you need help filing your New York state tax return or have related questions, you can search for answers on the website or call the customer support team at 518-457-5181 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Filing and payment deadline

For 2019 state taxes, the state has extended the filing and payment deadline. New York residents now have until July 15, 2020, to file their state returns and pay any state tax they owe for 2019. As with the federal deadline extension, New York won’t charge interest on unpaid balances between April 15 and July 15, 2020.

You don’t need to do anything to get this extension. It’s automatic for all New York taxpayers. But keep in mind that if you’re expecting a refund, the state urges you to go ahead and file as soon as possible.

While this year is a bit different, generally the deadline for filing and paying personal income taxes is April 15, the same as the deadline for your federal tax return. If April 15 falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline will be on the following business day.

Filing statuses

When filing your New York state tax return, you’ll typically use the same filing status as you do on your federal return. The status options are single, head of household, married filing jointly, married filing separately and qualifying widow(er)/surviving spouse.

Learn how to choose a federal filing status

New York income tax rates

The state has a progressive tax rate that’s based on your income level and where you live. Rates for 2019 ranged from 4% to 8.82%. You can check the most-recent tax rates on the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance website.

Note that if you live in New York City or Yonkers, you’re required to include your local income tax from those cities on your state return.

New York state tax deductions and credits

The state offers a slew of tax deductions and credits for its residents. Here’s a sampling of some that you may be able to take advantage of.

Child and dependent care credit

If you qualify to claim the federal child and dependent care credit, you can get an additional credit through your New York state return. The amount of the credit is between 20% and 110% of the federal credit, based on your New York state adjusted gross income.

If you live in New York City, you can claim yet another child and dependent care credit worth up to 75% of your state credit. To qualify, your federal adjusted gross income must be $30,000 or less, you must have paid childcare expenses for at least one child who was younger than 4 at the end of the tax year, and you qualified for the New York state child and dependent care credit.

College tuition credit or deduction

New York allows residents to choose either a credit or deduction for qualified tuition expenses. If you were a state resident for the entire year and paid qualified undergraduate tuition for yourself, your spouse or a dependent, you may be eligible for the credit or deduction.

The refundable credit can be up to $400 per student. If you opt to take the deduction instead of the credit, the maximum amount you could deduct is $10,000 per eligible student — note that you can only take the deduction if you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return.

Nonresidents and part-year residents can claim the deduction but not the credit. Tax bonus: You can qualify for the credit or deduction even if you used funds from a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan to pay for the tuition.

Earned income tax credit

If you claim the federal earned income credit, you can get an additional credit on your New York state return equal to 30% of your federal credit, less any household credit you receive.

If you live in New York City, you might qualify for a third earned income credit worth 5% of your federal credit amount.

How to file your New York state tax

If your income meets certain limitations ($69,000 or less for 2019), you may be able to use IRS Free File to file your federal and New York state income tax returns. If your income exceeds limits, you won’t be able to file for free using IRS Free File software. You may still be able to use IRS Free File Fillable Forms. Or, you can use an online tax-preparation service or a professional tax preparer.

If you want to file a paper return, you can fill out the form online and print it out to submit it by mail. If you’re expecting to receive a refund, send your paper return to …

State Processing Center
PO Box 61000
Albany, NY 12261-0001

If you’re including a payment with your return, mail both to …

State Processing Center
PO Box 15555
Albany, NY 12212-5555

If you owe and can’t pay

If you need more time to file your tax return, you can request a six-month extension. That said, you’ll still need to make a payment of your estimated tax bill when you request the extension.

If you do file on time but can’t pay the full amount due, you can request an installment payment agreement through your online account on the state’s website. This agreement, which extends your payments for up to 36 months, is available to taxpayers with a bill of $20,000 or less.

While you’re making payments, though, you’ll incur both penalties and interest on any unpaid balance.

Learn what to do if you can't pay your federal taxes

Tracking your New York tax refund

You can check your state refund status through the state’s online tool or by calling 518-457-5149 anytime. If you use the online tool, you’ll need to know your Social Security number, the tax form you filed and the tax year .

Bottom line

As you prepare to file your New York state tax return, learn as much as you can about the process and how to reduce your tax bill. Take time to learn more on the state’s website.

Christina Taylor is senior manager of tax operations for Credit Karma. She has more than a dozen years of experience in tax, accounting and business operations. Christina founded her own accounting consultancy and managed it for more than six years. She co-developed an online DIY tax-preparation product, serving as chief operating officer for seven years. She is the current treasurer of the National Association of Computerized Tax Processors and holds a bachelor’s in business administration/accounting from Baker College and an MBA from Meredith College. You can find her on LinkedIn.

About the author: Ben Luthi is a personal finance freelance writer and credit cards expert. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and finance from Brigham Young University. In addition to Credit Karma, you can find his wo… Read more.