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Monday, April 7, 2014
The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is offering a word of advice and a bit of help leading up to the tax filing deadline April 15.

Tax department and consumer protection officials have issued a warning to state taxpayers to beware people calling and claiming to be be from the Internal Revenue Service or the state Tax Department. Several people have complained that they received phone calls from someone claiming to be from one of the two agencies and demanding immediate payment — a payment that would go to the scammer and not to the taxing agency.

They are warning of an email “phishing” scam in which taxpayers receive emails with the IRS logo claiming to be from the “Taxpayer Advocate Service.” A link within the email asks taxpayers for personal information which the scammer could then use to steal their identity.

 "The New York Department of State's Division of Consumer Protection wants to remind consumers to be vigilant and be aware of dishonest individuals posing as public tax officials who use fear tactics and intimidation to cheat New York taxpayers out of their hard-earned money," said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. "If you do have a New York State tax debt, contact us directly so that we can establish a payment plan and resolve your situation."

Perales notes that both the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and the Internal Revenue Service always make first contact by letter with a phone number you can contact to verify that it was sent by the agency. He also said that neither agency will request personal or financial information by email or with a link in an email.

• The state tax department has extended the hours of operation at its Taxpayer Information Call Center now through the last day of the filing season, April 15. Normally the Call Center – which handled more than 1 million calls during last year’s tax season – operates Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

With extended hours, however, it will remain open from 8:30 am to 7 pm Monday through Friday, and from 9 am to 3 pm on Saturday. The call center’s phone number is 518-457-5181.

In addition to the extended Call Center hours, the department is offering “facilitated self-assisted” e-file sites at eight locations in some of New York’s most populated areas, including Buffalo.

Taxpayers can e-file their own returns at these locations, with Tax Department employees available to answer questions and provide assistance.  The self-service sites make it possible for a few trained volunteers to help thousands of eligible taxpayers.

The Buffalo office is located at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, 1 Lafayette St. It will be staffed on Thursday from 3:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

For more information on the self-service site, call 858-7100

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