Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) speaks Friday at a forum on...

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) speaks Friday at a forum on tax cuts for small businesses at the Elmont Public Library. (March 25, 2011) Credit: Heather Walsh

Taking advantage of tax breaks available to small businesses sometimes means knowing the right questions to ask. That's what nearly two dozen people heard from the Internal Revenue Service at a forum held at the Elmont Memorial Library Friday.

"You have to really hunt for it, but there are a lot of tax breaks," said Bill Rettig, a data analyst who is the sole proprietor of his Floral Park consulting business called Arcturus Consulting. "The most important thing of all was the tax break for health insurance."

The Small Business Jobs Act passed by Congress last year allows self-employed people to deduct the cost of health insurance for themselves and their families when calculating net earnings from self-employment on their 2010 taxes.

Rettig said the deduction would help his bottom line.

The act created 16 provisions that can help small businesses including increased deductions for certain business purchases in 2010 and 2011 and a tax break for investors in small-business stock. Some of the incentives apply to the 2010 tax year, while others won't come into effect immediately.

"You want to have enough information so you can ask the right questions and to plan ahead," said Lucille Wesnofske, director of the NYS Small Business Development Center at Farmingdale State College, who spoke at the forum.

"Hopefully they will be enlightened and have a better understanding of what's available," said Lillie Davenport, senior stakeholder liaison for the IRS.

Carmine Yevoli maintains and repairs oxygen, nitrous oxide and other gas equipment for hospitals and dentists. As the sole proprietor of Cardinal Medical Gas Services in Elmont, he said he came to get general information about what tax breaks are available to him as he contemplates hiring his first employee; he wasn't sure which provisions might apply to his business.

"I know I have to speak to the accountant," he said. "I'm just here to soak it up."

Valerie Wynter, 58, said she works full-time as a train dispatcher for New York City Transit and runs a few online side businesses selling vitamins, Avon products and children's clothing that she hopes to rely on for income when she retires. She said she had already filed her taxes for 2010 but was now going to talk to her accountant about whether she could amend her return to take advantage of any of the new incentives.

"I can take a brochure and at least let him explain to me things that he may have overlooked," Wynter said.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) who hosted the event, said, "We've tried to make an even playing field for you so that you'll get the tax deductions and have the buying power that the large corporations have."

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