ALBANY — The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today shared five essential filing tips for New Yorkers who do their best work up against a deadline. Personal income tax returns are due no later than midnight on Monday, April 15.

“It’s time to focus on meeting your vital obligation to file your taxes if you haven’t already,” said New York State Taxpayer Rights Advocate Margaret Neri. “Avoid late-filing penalties and processing delays by filing before the April 15 deadline.”

These filing tips below can help ensure a smooth filing process and an error-free return.

E-file — Taxpayers with adjusted gross household incomes of $66,000 or less in 2018 may access free, user-friendly software from their computer, smartphone, or tablet at www.tax.ny.gov (search: Free File). The tax preparation software helps prevent filing errors and processing delays, and uncover potentially valuable credits you may have missed.

Take advantage of free resources — Taxpayers with adjusted gross household incomes of $66,000 or less in 2018 can take advantage of the opportunity to safely and efficiently e-file their returns at free tax assistance sites. Search "Free Tax Assistance" at www.tax.ny.gov for a schedule of dates, times, and locations for all free filing sessions statewide. This page also describes the important documents and information you should bring to your free filing session.

Hire a trustworthy tax preparer — While most paid preparers are honest and competent, some unethical preparers will use their access to sensitive taxpayer information to prey on unsuspecting New Yorkers to line their own pockets. Taxpayers should do their due diligence when hiring a preparer, review their credentials, ask for a list of fees, and ensure their private information will be protected. Visit our Tips for hiring a tax preparer webpage.

Be alert for scams — Strategies used by scammers to steal private information can be as simple as a phone call or as sophisticated as a phishing campaign to install malware on victims’ home computers. Some obvious scam tactics include threatening phone calls, email phishing schemes, demanding immediate payment at a specific location, or asking for payment using iTunes gift cards or reloadable debit cards.

Use direct deposit — Receive any refund due up to a week faster by having it directly deposited into your bank account. Be sure to double check the routing and account numbers for your account.

If you’re eager to find out the status of your claim for an income tax refund, use the Check your Refund app on our website: www.tax.ny.gov. You’ll need to enter the refund amount you're claiming, your Social Security number, and which form you filed.

You can also find out when your refund will be issued by signing up for Tax Department email alerts.