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Low-income residents prep for taxes with Monserrate

Coordinators from ACORN, a nationwide community action network, will be on hand at Monserrate's campaign office in Corona six days a week, helping residents who earn less than $35,000 a year fill out tax forms and file for the Earned Income Tax Credit electronically. "Clearly we have concerns about unscrupulous tax preparers," Monserrate said. "We're offering (residents) a safe environment where they can come and get their taxes done for free and know that they're going to get the service and they're not going to get ripped off." Monserrate's office first made the service available last year. The councilman said more than 500 people participated and received more than $660,000 in rebates through the Earned Income Tax Credit, an often-overlooked federal program made available to low-income individuals or families. The credit can be worth up to $4,600 for low-income working families, ACORN said.Eligibility for the credit is based on size of family, marital status and income. A single parent with one child would need to earn less than $30,338 a year to qualify. "Communities like Corona need the Earned Income Tax Credit the most, yet they are the least likely to know about it," Monserrate said. "Statistics show that up to 25 percent of the families in this area who qualify for EITC do not claim it." Monserrate said he expected as many as 1,000 people to take advantage of the tax service this year. ACORN, the agency which will be preparing the tax forms and filing them, offers the service in 45 cities across the country. The ACORN free tax preparation centers can electronically file current year taxes and provide refunds within five to seven days for taxpayers who request direct deposits into their bank accounts, the group's Web site said. ACORN tax preparers will be on hand at Monserrate's campaign office Tuesday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. until the April 15 tax-filing deadline, Monserrate said. Residents must bring photo ID, their social security cards, all W-2s and other forms. Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157. Hiram Monserrate's office: 40-33 99th St. For more information call ACORN at 718-246-7900 or visit www.acorn.org

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