Guide to NY IT-201

The IT-201 is the main income tax form for New York State residents.  It is analogous to the US Form 1040, but it is four pages long, instead of two pages. 
The first page of IT-201  is mostly a recap of information that flows directly from the federal tax forms.    TaxWise will handle most of this automatically.  You will need to supply information about the taxpayer's county and school district of residence.  The reason for this is that state aid formulas to local governments are partially based on the income of their residents.
The second page of IT-201 has "NYS additions" and "NYS subtractions" from the federal definition of income.  The most common additions and subtractions that apply to our site's clients relate to pension benefits and contributions.  You can read more about those at this link to the New York State bed buffaloes .  The next part of the second page of IT-201 deals with exemptions for dependents and itemized deductions.   These are somewhat different from their federal counterparts.  In particular, New York State allows an exemption of $1,000 per dependent, but does not allow any personal exemptions for the taxpayer, unlike the federal income tax.   The standard deduction in NYS is also different from its federal counterpart. 
 The third and fourth pages of IT-201 have a number of credits as well as information relating to city income taxes for residents of New York City and Yonkers.   
The major difference between federal tax credits and NYS tax credits is that most federal tax credits are NON-refundable, while most NYS tax credits are refundable.
In particular, in New York, the education credits and child care credits are refundable, even though the corresponding federal tax credits are not refundable.  This means that many low income taxpayers who get no benefit from those federal tax credits will get benefits from their NYS counterparts.

Common NYS issues for our VITA site clients:
Lines 21, 26, 27 and 29: NYS Bed Buffaloes 
(pension contributions & benefits which can be NYS additions or subtractions)
(NOT refundable)
(unlike federal counterpart, only for children ages 4 to 16)
Refundable (unlike federal counterpart)
(should automatically flow from corresponding federal tax form)
Also note that NY offers special provisions for non-custodial parents who make required child support payments on time 
This credit is actually for both renters & homeowners
Refundable (unlike federal counterpart)
Only for UNDERGRADUATE tuition (unlike federal counterpart)
(may NOT automatically flow from corresponding federal credit forms; link from Line 68 to complete Form IT-272)