Julisa Sierra says seniors can have a hard time when the calendar turns to tax season, especially this year.

“You pay your taxes and then, now you have to pay to get your taxes done again," said Sierra, the senior director of the Mulberry Senior Center. "So it gets a little bit tough.”

But help is available.

What You Need To Know

  • The IRS is offering a direct file pilot program for the 2024 tax season

  • The program would be offered to taxpayers who meet certain thresholds

  • The state Tax Department says this pilot would allow officials to determine how to better serve the public and increase affordability

Senior centers around New York help folks in need get free tax filing assistance through free or reduced filing programs. According to the state, the filing process could cost anywhere from $150 to $250.

New York is one of 13 states trying to take tax filing help a step further. A new pilot program from the IRS is being tested here. The pilot would allow people meeting certain thresholds to get access to a free-to-use online program to file their taxes.

Robert Smith, the state Tax Department's director of community outreach, said the pilot will assess customer support and technology needs.

“Direct file will be a convenient alternative for taxpayers to electronically prepare and submit their New York state income tax return," he said.

Niagara University accounting professor Ian Burt said prices for tax filing are going up, even though, in many cases, the filing process can be straight forward and the benefits can be two-fold for the IRS and taxpayers.

“The ease of it, the complexity of all that stuff, limits how many people are going to do it," Burt said. "So the more they can provide easy access at a cheap, affordable cost, or in this case, free, the more they're going to get actually to complete their taxes.”

Sierra said the program is a perfect idea. She just hopes resources are made available to help folks who might not be tech savvy.

“This would be probably be a facility that would be able to assist those seniors because some feel technically challenged and they get a little nervous, especially when it comes to inputting information," she said. "They want to make sure that they're doing it correctly.”

More information on the direct file pilot is available on the IRS website. The qualification process for taxpayers is expected to open later this year.