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Boro gifts to tsunami funds eligible for 2004 tax breaks

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The bill, which passed the House and Senate Thursday and was signed into law Friday by President Bush, permits taxpayers to deduct donations to reputable tsunami relief agencies from their 2004 federal and state income tax returnsWithout the extended Jan. 31 deadline, people would have had to wait until next year to claim deductions made this month. "The devastation of the tsunami in Southeast Asia touches us all and we have already seen incredible gestures of generosity," said state Sen. Serphin Maltese, (R-Glendale). "We believe that this legislation will further encourage New Yorkers to open their hearts and donate to assist the people who have been affected."Donations must be made in cash to charities that have been given tax exempt status by the IRS. Visit the Web site ww.charitynavigator.com to evaluate an organization. A slew of Queens churches, temples and relief groups sprang into action two weeks ago after the tsunami killed about 150,000 people in a dozen countries. As a home to people from all over the world, Queens has a special connection with the tragedy. Sri Lankans at the New York Buddhist Vihara at 214-22 Spencer Ave. had raised $107,000 as of Jan. 7. Visit their Web site www.helptolanka.com to make a pledge.The Hindu Temple Society of North America at 143-07 Holly Ave. in Flushing, which boasts 20,000 members, is also rushing to the aid of Sri Lanka. They announced a $200,000 fund-raising drive last week. Call the temple at 718-460-2500 to make a donation. Indonesian Community Center at Long Island City has raised $135,000 in cash for victims in Indonesia, a country with a death toll nearing 100,000. Checks made out to IMCI can be sent to the center at 48-01 31st Ave., Long Island City, NY 11103. Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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