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Get Help Preparing Your Tax Returns

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Get Help Preparing Your Tax Returns

Tuscon , Arizona | by C.J. Shane

Yikes! Only four more weeks and our federal and state tax returns are due. The good news is that help is available.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) describes two programs on its website for qualified taxpayers: the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program (TCE). Both are available in Tucson.

The IRS describes these first of these two programs, the VITA program, in this way: “The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.”

The United Way of Tucson provides information about the VITA program, including an on-line map of Tucson showing you where you can get VITA assistance. (https://www.unitedwaytucson.org/content/vita-map). Or you can call 800-906-9887 to locate VITA help near you.

According to Elliot Ledley, United Way of Tucson’s Director of Marketing & Communications, getting assistance with your taxes is a smart idea. “Every year, $ 15 to 20 million dollars are unclaimed because people don’t know about available options, especially how to make use of the Earned Income Tax Credit.” Meeting with a VITA volunteer assistor is just one option, says Ledley. There’s also the VITA “valet” program in which you just drop off your tax information, and the tax assistor will do the taxes for you!

The second program, Tax Counseling for the Elderly, is described by the IRS this way: “The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors. The IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.”

TCE is a project of AARP. You can find a map of TCE assistance sites in Tucson here: https://www.aarp.org/applications/VMISLocator/searchTaxAideLocations.action
Click on the site closest to you. A box will pop up giving you the days and times that tax assistance is available.

Regardless of which program you choose, the United Way website has additional information about filing your taxes this year, including what you need to take to your tax preparation meeting. The United Way also provides some key information regarding the need to show proof of health care insurance when filing taxes. See this page for this information: https://www.unitedwaytucson.org/FreeTaxPreparation.

United Way also gives you a third option on this link just mentioned, and that’s the MyFreeTaxes.com site. On this site, you use free H&R block and Turbo Tax software to file your taxes yourself.

The VITA, TCE, and MyFreeTaxes programs are also available to veterans. Read a blog on the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs website about tax preparation assistance here: https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/16726/free-tax-return-preparation-for-veterans-military-members-and-their-families/

Keep in mind that if you do not have easy access to a computer or if you don’t know how to access the links in this article, go to your local public library and ask the librarian for help.

No need to delay. Get help with your taxes today!

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