Long Islanders may be eligible for free tax-preparation help beginning next week.
The Health & Welfare Council of Long Island brought business and public officials together Tuesday to encourage lower-income taxpayers, including senior citizens, to take advantage of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
The program helps those making up to $56,000 annually by putting them together with accountants and other experts who will prepare their taxes and help them avoid big fees charged by private companies. VITA is now in its 50th year.
Bethpage Federal Credit Union is returning for its 17th year of helping taxpayers through the program, which is open to all who are income-eligible. As of Feb. 4, it offer its experts’ help at several locations around Long Island, including the Huntington Station branch of the Huntington Public Library.
“As Long Islanders continue to suffer the economic hardship created by the 2019 tax code changes…the need for free, reliable tax preparation has never been greater,” said Rebecca Sanin, president and CEO of the council.
Sanin noted that in addition to Bethpage and the AARP, the HWCLI is a VITA participant and will assist taxpayers at its office in Huntington Station. For information on qualifying for, and participating in, the free program, taxpayers should call HCWLI at 516) 738-0447.
Volunteer tax preparers are certified by the IRS, and meet with taxpayers at community centers to collect required documents. When tax preparations are complete, the volunteers notify taxpayers, who then return to finalize the documents. HWCLI offers services in English, Spanish or Haitian Creole.
Bethpage said taxpayers should bring these materials to their appointments: photo identification, Social Security cards for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents, current year’s tax package if you received one, wage and earnings 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 and account numbers for tax refund direct deposit, total paid for daycare, and provider’s tax ID.
It said that in 2019, Bethpage completed 1,931 VITA tax returns and helped secure IRS total refunds of over $2 million. Bethpage also helped secure $201,961 in child tax credits in 2019, and $487,824 in Earned Income Tax Credits.
Town Council members Edmund Smyth and Mark Cuthbertson, with Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, spoke in support of the program, as did numerous other officials from Babylon and community organizations.