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Making Tax Season Less Taxing

By Phil Guie

February 7, 2008

If you're a low-income worker living in Queens or Brooklyn, you could qualify for free assistance filing your return, or for some extra cash back.
With tax season approaching, those who may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which was founded in 1975 to offset the burden of social security taxes, are encouraged to find out their eligibility.

Meanwhile, for help filing returns at no cost, residents should dial 311 or (800) 906-9887 to locate the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) nearest them. Generally located in community centers, libraries and schools, VITA sites feature certified volunteers who help low to moderate-income individuals - or those earning $40,000 or below annually - prepare their basic taxes.

Visitors to VITA these sites are expected to bring the following items:

  • Proof of identification;
  • Social Security Cards for you, your spouse and dependents and/or a Social Security Number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration;
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse, and dependents on the tax return;
  • Current year's tax package if you received one;
  • Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, from all employers;
  • Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099);
  • A copy of last year's Federal and State returns if available;
  • Bank Routing Numbers and Account Numbers for Direct Deposit;
  • Total paid for day care provider and the day care provider's tax identifying number (the provider's Social Security Number or the provider's business Employer Identification Number);
  • Information for other income; and
  • Information for deductions/credits.

Both spouses must be present to sign if a married joint tax return is filed electronically.

Along with VITA sites, tax preparation services are available at the Brooklyn IRS office located at 625 Fulton Street. This office will be operating on extended hours throughout the month of February.

Local officials are urging residents to not only file their returns, but to seek out the Earned Income Tax Credit.

"[It] is one of our most important anti-poverty tools," said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who represents parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. "At a time when the rise in costs of living has left many in our city cash-strapped, the EITC can help them make ends meet."

The congresswoman said applying for the EITC is a complicated and confusing enterprise for the average person to undergo. "I encourage those who need assistance to visit one of the free tax preparation sites where community volunteers can help," she said.