Reminder – Tax Assistance is Available

March 6, 2007

Every year about this time, we all feel that old familiar tension building as we approach April 15th. It’s tax season, and with all the forms and regulations and new credits, it can seem a bit overwhelming to anyone, no matter how well you remember doing in your high school math classes!

Fortunately, there are several services available to Suffolk County residents to make your filing experience a lot easier. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a free service offered by the IRS, where certified volunteers help low-to-moderate income people prepare their income taxes. The Suffolk County Department of Labor building in Hauppauge is a certified VITA site, and can help eligible residents Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., until April 13th. For more information, call (631) 853-6514.

Additionally, the AARP offers its Tax-Aide program to low-to-middle income people of all ages, with special attention to seniors. There are many locations to access this free service; for example, in the Brentwood and Islip areas:

Brentwood Public Library, 34 2nd Avenue – (631) 273-7883
Central Islip Public Library, 33 Hawthorne Avenue – (631) 234-9333
Islip Public Library, 71 Monell Avenue – (631) 581-5933
West Islip Public Library, 3 Higbie Lane – (631) 661-7080
West Islip Senior Center, 90 Higbie Lane – (631) 893-8932

Most of these services are available through the first or second weeks of April, but offer services only on select days. You should call ahead to find out when Tax-Aide counselors are available, and if you need to make an appointment.

All taxpayers should also beware of refund anticipation loans (RALs) from certain tax-preparation companies. While it is very appealing to get money almost instantly, you should be aware that RALs are not your tax refund – they’re high-interest loans, which can carry interest rates of up to 700% in some cases. If you are patient, you will get your full refund – an instant loan can be very, very costly.

I understand full well the strain taxes can put on all of our wallets. That’s why, as your Assemblyman, I worked last year to bring property tax rebates to the overburdened taxpayers of Long Island. In this year’s legislative session, I and the Assembly hope to create even more savings by working with Governor Spitzer to implement his proposed middle-class STAR program, which could save Suffolk County Basic STAR recipients up to $1,717, and Enhanced STAR recipients up to $2,188.

I assure you that in the Assembly, I’m fighting to ease the tax burden we all feel. I hope this information helps you to get your taxes done on time, and with all the deductions and rebates you’re entitled to.