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LI resident getting tax help: ‘I’m very glad I came’

Robert Smith, from the NYS Department of Taxation

Robert Smith, from the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance assists Geraldine Gruenthal, of Levittown, with completing her taxes during a free tax preparation assistance session at the Bellmore Memorial Library, Saturday, April 1, 2017. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

As the tax filing deadline neared, Robin Gold’s anxiety level rose.

By her own calculations, the 54-year-old Levittown resident owed the Internal Revenue Service $3,500.

But after about an hour of help from a state tax official at the Bellmore Memorial Library on Saturday morning, her dread turned into delight. She’ll be getting a $2,000 refund instead.

“I feel a whole lot better now,” said Gold, an account executive at an insurance agency. “I’m very glad I came.”

She was one of 16 Long Islanders who attended the free tax- filing assistance session, co-sponsored by the state Department of Taxation and Finance and Sen. John E. Brooks (D-Seaford).

The department is hosting such events at more than 65 sites statewide this year, officials said, all aimed at helping people with adjusted gross household incomes of $64,000 or less learn to file on their own. Most file their taxes at the clinics as well.

Some 9,000 New Yorkers took advantage of the service last year, according to Robert Smith, a department spokesman who was on hand to guide attendees through the filing process.

“Many taxpayers want to learn how to prepare their returns themselves,” he said.

Geraldine Gruenthal, 72, was up for the challenge.

The Levittown resident has previously relied on volunteers at other free tax-preparation clinics to fill out her return for her. She came to Bellmore to change that.

“This program will force me to learn how to do it on my own — hopefully!” she said.

The assistance is particularly valuable to the elderly, according to Elizabeth Gifkins, who organizes adult programs at the library.

“There’s a lot of seniors that don’t know how to use computers to e-file on their own,” she said. “And a lot of them can’t afford to hire someone.”

Some attendees grumbled about the long wait to receive help as they sat in the library basement, tax documents stacked in their laps. But they knew it would be time well spent in the end, they said.

“I want to make sure everything is correct,” said Harry Grota, a 75-year-old bus driver from Wantagh, who expressed a healthy fear of the IRS.

“I don’t want any headaches with them!”

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