Assemblywoman
CATHERINE
NOLAN
Reports to the People
OCTOBER 2003 



Dear Neighbor,

In all the years I have been privileged to represent our community as a member of the New York State Assembly, I have always tried to be available to all. I support government agencies that are accessible to our neighborhoods. Despite our best efforts it sometimes seems "big government" has been more out of touch than ever.

Recently hundreds of Ridgewood residents testified at a City Council Redistricting hearing to advocate for a unified Queens Council District. The commission turned a deaf ear to our pleas but groups like the Coalition for a United Ridgewood will keep fighting this fight and I will continue to work with them.

In Long Island City, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation did a terrible job of notifying our community about their plans for power plant expansion. I am fighting to secure an additional hearing near Queensbridge for people to testify about the effects these plants have on asthma and other health and community issues. The Power Authority was fined over $500,000 for pollution violations and did not notify the community! We will continue to fight this.

Perhaps worst of all, the Mayor has arbitrarily closed Engine 261 Long Island City and other firehouses in our city and despite massive protests, has kept them shuttered. This impacts Queens Boulevard, Sunnyside and all of western Queens.

There have also been legislative hearings about the lack of accountability at the MTA, complaints about cuts in youth funding and confusion about the new "Department of Education." In all these controversies I want you to know I will continue to work together with community leaders to oppose these appointed commissions and unaccountable public authorities both with legislation and advocacy. I will keep fighting for our neighborhoods!

Sincerely,
Catherine Nolan
DISTRICT OFFICE INFORMATION

My district offices are here to serve you. If you have a question, problem or idea, please do not hesitate to stop by, call, write or e-mail and we will do our best to try to assist you. Both offices are open Monday through Friday from 9am until 5pm.

61-08 Linden Street
Ridgewood, NY 11385
(718) 456-9492
45-25 47th Street
Woodside, NY 11377
(718) 784-3194
nolanc@assembly.state.ny.us



Working with the Coalition for a United Ridgewood to keep Ridgewood together in one City Council district was a very rewarding experience. It was a pleasure to see so many people stand up for their community. Rev. James Kelly of St. Bridgetís Church came out to support the Coalition at a City Council hearing on the subject.
Unfortunately, repeated protests could not stop Mayor Bloomberg from closing Engine 261 in Dutch Kills. Pictured above from left to right with me are Fernando Ferrer, who came out to show his support, George Stamatiades of the Dutch Kills Civic Association and local firemen.



PUT MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET

Many working families continue to have difficulty making ends meet in the post 9-11 economy. Layoffs and job cuts have forced some to take employment at a lower salary.

In response, our federal and state governments continue providing money saving tax credits to working taxpayers and families. Unfortunately, many people know very little about these benefits that translate into extra money for their families.

For example, single workers and working families whose incomes fall within certain guidelines are eligible for an Earned Income Credit (EIC) from both state and federal governments. Also, families whose child care expenses fall within a certain range might be eligible for a federal Child and Dependent Care Credit. The following information outlines both important credits.




EARNED INCOME CREDIT
Q.  How does the Earned Income Credit (EIC) work?

Earned Income Credit (EIC) is a special tax benefit for people who work. Eligible families and single workers can file federal and state income tax returns and a "Schedule EIC" form. If a qualifying family owes income tax, EIC reduces the amount of taxes owed. If your EIC is more than your tax bill (even if you donít owe any taxes) you will receive a check for the difference. Families already due a refund get the amount of the EIC added to the refund check.

There are two ways to get the credit - when you file your tax return or in your paycheck, by having it paid to you "in advance" (Advance EIC).

For possible further benefits, check your old tax records or complete an Earned Income Credit Advance Payment Certificate. If you qualified in past years, you may file for an EIC up to three years retroactively.

Q.  Am I eligible?

Those eligible include:

  • Single workers between the ages of 25 and 64 and earning $11,060 or less per year are eligible for up to $376.
  • Families earning $30,201 or less and caring for one child may receive up to $2,506.
  • Families earning $34,178 or less, who are caring for two or more children, are entitled to as much as $4,140.

New York State has an EIC tax benefit too. You receive 27.5% of your federal benefit as a state credit - money in addition to the federal benefit.

Q.  Will EIC reduce other government benefits?

In almost all cases, no. Some families eligible for the EIC also receive benefits under other government programs, including food stamps, SSI, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and public or subsidized housing. Only in rare cases will the EIC lower benefits in these other programs.

Q.  Are there any special tax services that I should know about?

  • Free tax help for low-and-middle income taxpayers is available through the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program. To find the VITA site nearest you, call 1-800-829-1040.
  • To order federal tax forms, call 1-800-829-FORM.
CHILD AND DEPENDENT CARE
Q.  Who qualifies for the Child and Dependent Care Credit?

Families who have work-related child care expenses are eligible for a federal Child and Dependent Care Credit up to $720 for one qualifying child and up to $1,440 for two or more qualifying children. New York State will provide a refundable credit for up to 110% of the federal credit for eligible taxpayers.

This benefit also covers care of a spouse or dependent incapable of caring for himself or herself.

The amount of the credit is based on income, the number of dependents in care and the amount paid for care. Specifically, you may claim up to $2,400 for one child and $4,800 for two or more children when calculating the credit.

Q.  What kind of child care qualifies?

Any type of child care qualifies as long as you pay for the care. The care may not be provided by a spouse, dependent or a child who was under the age of 19 at the end of 2002.

Q.  How do I claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit?

Taking advantage of the Child and Dependent Care Credit involves filing a separate form or schedule with your tax return. With tax for 1040, file form 2441. With tax for 1040A, file a Schedule 2 form.

Couples married at the end of 2002 must generally file a joint return to take the credit, although some special rules apply if you are living apart from your spouse.

Q.  If my employer provides child care benefits, can I still take the credit?

Yes, but the amount of the employer-provided benefits must be subtracted from the child care expenses that may be claimed under the credit.

Q.  What if my income is so low that I donít owe taxes, can I still take the Child and Dependent Care Credit?

It depends. Not at the federal level, but since the state credit is refundable, you would receive any excess credit above your tax liability in the form of a refund. Even if you owe a small amount in taxes, claiming the Child and Dependent Care Credit can increase the amount of refund you may otherwise get.

This is not the case with the Earned Income Credit. Even if you donít owe any taxes, you can still receive the credit from both the federal and state governments. If youíre eligible for EIC and CDCC, you can take both credits in the same year.




STAR (School Tax Relief) PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION

The STAR tax reduction is a New York State Program that lowers property tax for all homeowners who own property that is their primary residence. STAR saves homeowners between $180 and $350 a year on their property taxes. However, according to the New York City Department of Finance, the agency that administers NYC property taxes and tax exemption programs, thousands of New York City households are eligible for the STAR program but have not yet applied.

If you own a 1, 2, or 3 family home, a condominium, a cooperative, or any property that is your primary residence, all you have to do to lower your real estate taxes is apply for STAR.

To make it easier, in late summer-early fall 2003, the Department of Finance sent an application for basic STAR benefits to each homeowner who seems to be eligible but who does not currently have STAR benefits. If you receive this application, complete it and return it as soon as possible. Almost everyone who owns his or her primary residence will qualify for STAR.

If you indicate on the application that you are age 65 or over and have a total 2002 income of less than $63,750, the Department of Finance will also send you a second application for "Enhanced" STAR benefits, which saves qualified seniors even more money on their property taxes.

If you do not currently have STAR benefits, it is very important that you enroll in STAR this fall. Not only will STAR reduce your property taxes next year, but it will also help you avoid future tax increases that might be imposed on owners who do not occupy the properties they own.

Finally, if you are a veteran, a veteranís spouse or widow, or the parents of a veteran killed in the line of duty, you may also be eligible for the Veteranís Property Tax Reduction. There are also property tax reductions for senior citizens and disabled homeowners who have very limited incomes.

To obtain information about STAR or any of the other property tax reduction programs, call the Department of Finance Customer Assistance at (718) 935-9500, listen to the taped information at (718) 935-6736 or go to www.nyc.gov/finance and click on Real Estate Tax and select Tax Exemption from the menu provided.




It was a pleasure to be on hand for the unveiling of the plans for the new Long Island City Library on 21st Street with Gary Strong, Director of the Queens Library, Borough President Helen Marshall, and George Stamatiades, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Queens Library.

PLANS FOR THE NEW LIC LIBRARY UNVEILED

Through the efforts of the Assembly, Borough President Helen Marshall and the City Council, funds have been obtained to build a new library in Long Island City. The new library, slated to begin construction this fall, will create an educational campus with P.S. 111. The construction will cost $7 million and will take approximately 18 months to build.

The two-story, 18,000 square foot library will be built on a portion of the schoolís existing schoolyard. The playground area, however, will be expanded and portions renovated with the addition of new play equipment.

The state of the art library will include 25 computer workstations, increased services for adults and children and a meeting room that can accommodate 125 individuals. It will be fully accessible to persons with disabilities. This is an exciting addition for all of Long Island City.




Working together with "Save the Ridgewood YMCA" we were able to come up with a plan to keep the doors open at the Catalpa Avenue YMCA. I was able to secure $50,000 in state funds to help. Pictured above with me at a "Save the Y" rally is Nancy Greco Scherer who spearheaded the effort.

I was able to obtain state funds for the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce to work with the New York Industrial Retention Network (NYIRN) to keep business and manufacturing strong in Sunnyside and Long Island City. Pictured above with me are Gerry Lederman, President of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, Luke Adams, the Chamberís Executive Director, Adam Friedman, Executive Director of NYIRN and Lily Gavin, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce Board Member and owner of Dazieís restaurant.

The Salvation Armyís Borden Avenue Veteransí Residence honored me for my work in obtaining funds for the residentsí computer workshop. Computers have been installed at the residence to help the veterans with computer training, job searches and Internet literacy. Pictured above with me from left to right are Ron Casey, Chairman of the Board of the BAVR Advisory Board, Al Peck of the Salvation Army and Mamadou Cese, Director of the BAVR.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and I are working together on behalf of Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Astoria Houses residents and staff.
The MTAís Metro Card van once again visited my Sunnyside office on 47th Street to bring this valuable service right into our community.


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