Free tax-prep help at 48 Long Island sites

There are 48 sites on Long Island offering

There are 48 sites on Long Island offering help with filing taxes by the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, the Internal Revenue Service says. (Credit: iStock)

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Some local sponsors of a nationwide program to prepare income tax returns for free for low- and moderate-income people are hoping to reach more Long Islanders this year.

So far, 48 sites on the Island are offering help in filing tax returns, the IRS says.

Under the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, IRS-certified volunteers at about 13,000 locations nationwide help prepare forms, including electronic filing, for persons earning less than $52,000 a year. Volunteers also can counsel taxpayers about special tax credits, such as the earned-income tax credit.

The operators of each site set their own opening dates, but an IRS spokeswoman says most should be operating by now. Most sites close the program after April 15, the deadline for filing income tax returns.

Locations in operation include certain branches of Long Island's two largest credit unions, Bethpage Federal and Teachers Federal. Others are at public libraries and town senior citizen centers.

Interested taxpayers can find a center by ZIP code at irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep or by calling 800-906-9887.

Another IRS program, Tax Counseling for the Elderly, is for people 60 and older and specializes in questions about pensions and retirement issues. It also is free and runs in conjunction with the AARP.

This help is available at 63 locations on Long Island, said the IRS. Taxpayers can find the sites by calling 888-227- 7669 or by visiting aarp.org/ money/taxes/aarp_taxaide.

Another IRS program, Tax Counseling for the Elderly, is for people age 60 and older and specializes in questions about pensions and retirement issues. It also is free and runs in conjunction with the American Association for Retired Persons. Help is available at 63 locations on Long Island, said the IRS. Taxpayers can find them by calling 888-227-7669 or visiting aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide.

Teachers Federal said it is offering services under the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through April 9 at five branches: East Northport, Bay Shore, Farmingville, Commack and Patchogue.

Bethpage Federal said it is offering volunteer tax assistance at 12 of its 27 Nassau and Suffolk branches, making it the largest local participant.

It prepared 2,028 tax returns through the program last year and hopes to grow that number this year by about 15 percent to 2,300, a spokeswoman said.

Most of the Bethpage counselors are accounting, finance and business students from local colleges.

Teachers Federal, which said it helped more than 330 people last year, issued no forecast for this year.

Services are available on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons in Elmont, Freeport, Hempstead, Massapequa, Roosevelt, Westbury, Bay Shore, Central Islip, Farmingdale, Patchogue, West Babylon and Riverhead. No appointments are needed.

Bethpage also will provide mobile assistance available at various public locations. Specifics are available at www.bethpagefcu.com/community/events or at 800-628-7070.

Bethpage has participated since 2004.

Bethpage asks taxpayers to bring their 2013 wage and earnings statements, a copy of last year's federal and state returns, bank routing and account numbers for direct deposit, proof of child care payments, social security cards and photo IDs.

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