January 17, 2013
For more information:
Gigi Thompson Jarvis, CAE
For Immediate Release
Tax Return Assistance for Qualifying Victims of Hurricane Sandy
Enrolled Agents in New York Lend a Hand
Washington, DC (January 17, 2013)—The IRS has asked the New York State Society of Enrolled Agents (NYSSEA) to provide qualifying Hurricane Sandy victims with professional tax return preparation assistance at no charge.
Many of the storm victims will need to submit casualty or theft loss forms with their returns this year, and unfortunately, many of the preparers who work with the existing assistance programs for low-income or elderly taxpayers are not trained in this area. The existing programs, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs, offer free tax help to taxpayers who qualify based upon income or age. Volunteer preparers must be certified by IRS in order to participate in these programs, but familiarity with the form that covers the casualty and theft issues that many victims of Sandy have experienced is not required.
“Members of NYSSEA are ready and willing to help,” said NYSSEA President Don Rosenberg, EA of Yorktown Heights, NY. “In fact, NYSSEA sponsored casualty loss training on Saturday, January 12, at three locations in the NYC metropolitan area. We had well over 100 tax practitioners participate.”
Considering the complicated nature of tax rules pertaining to losses incurred in a federally declared disaster, it makes sense that IRS would turn to enrolled agents (also called “EAs”), who must pass a stringent three-part exam on tax that is administered by IRS, for assistance in this matter. A Hurricane Sandy aid bill to determine what tax relief is offered to victims has been under consideration in Congress.
EAs are the only federally-licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation and also have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS. They’re often referred to as “America’s tax experts.” While attorneys and certified public accountants are also licensed, only enrolled agents specialize exclusively in taxes. Enrolled agents are required to complete many hours of continuing education each year to ensure they are up-to-date on the constantly changing tax code and must abide by a code of ethics. To locate an enrolled agent in your area, go to the “Find an EA” directory at www.naea.org.