2001-03-31 / Letters

Give Seniors A Break

Give Seniors A Break

Dear Editor;

This year, the management of the housing projects on Shore Front Parkway is requesting a certified copy of the New York State tax return from their tenants. I have to assume that the move is due to prevent or eliminate the alleged fraud in the yearly financial statements. If that is the case, the request has its merits. However the process is a waste of time and money for the tenants, the management and the tax agency. The management has to mail an application to the tenants with the instructions that takes time / money. The State Agency has to process the application and mail the tenant the certified copy of their return. That takes time and money. I am sure the tax agency has better things to do, especially at tax time.

I am sure the two dollar fee, paid by the tenants with the application, does not cover the work involved. As for the tenants, and they are the object of this letter, the matter is worse. As we know, most of them are 65 years and older. They live in buildings on the 8th, 10th, 12th floor. Some of them do not even have a checkbook, therefore they have to go out and buy a money order and if you know the location, that alone is a great task (Is there any money order vendor nearby?) Now they have to fill out the money order and the application and send them to the New York State tax agency in Albany, requesting the certified copy, with a note "if the request is not available, please notify me in writing. In addition, please mail me a print-out of my total earnings for the year 2000." Will a certified copy be different than the one filed? Will it solve the alleged problem?

If a true income is a must, then they should request the print-out of the total earning in the first place, not the copy that tenant’s filed. Upon receiving the certified copy, the tenants have to mail it to the management at Lake Success, N.Y. with a "notarized financial statement." (Is there a notary nearby? m/o, mailings, certified tax copy, notarized statement, work, expenses, and more expenses) One old lady labeled it "a pain in the...tush." Well, I will not emphasize her point.

Most seniors are very capable of taking care of themselves, but many need help. While I understand the management’s good reason for the request, I think there should be a better way for all the parties involved, especially for the seniors. If the management needs a certified copy of the tax return, why don’t they ask for a "notarized" copy of it? It would be easier to obtain it. Many tax preparers are also notaries and I am sure they would not jeopardize their role. After all, with the application and two dollar fee, all the management is going to get is a copy of the return that the tenant had filed earlier with the state. What is the implication? That the financial statement filed with the management is altered to prevent a rent increase or the eligibility to the apartment? If the "notarized" copy is not the answer, then I think there is an alternative one, a better one. This one will eliminate the work, the money and time consuming for all the parties involved and it is fraud proof. Thanks to the modern technology, if qualified, we are able to go in any "participating" agency’s file. Already a qualified person or entity can automatically enter in to the N.Y. State’s tax files "to check the balance and reconcile the estimated tax account" (N.Y.S. Tax Agency’s new available facility) or access to a W-2 form, interest, dividends of many participating payroll service providers. A qualified management could very well verify the total earnings of the year of any tenant by a flip of keyboard, thus eliminating all the work and expenses for all the parties involved, especially the seniors.

Give those seniors a break. They deserve it.

Until next time, ciao.


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