TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Get your receipts out and your papers ready because Monday, Jan. 28 is the first day that you can file your tax returns with the IRS.
If you’re looking for help preparing your paperwork for your returns look no further than the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program through United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona.
VITA is a free service available to any person or family whose annual income is $66,000 or less. All volunteers with the VITA program are IRS certified tax preparers that go through a month-long training process and they come from all over the southern Arizona community.
One such volunteer is Tara Autenreith. She’s a U of A student in her final year at the university and she’s been volunteering with VITA since she started out as a Wildcat over three years ago.
“It’s nice that just from doing someone’s taxes like you learn about them, like, they’re giving you a lot of their personal information,” Autenreith said.
If you are interested in having someone like her assist you with preparing your tax returns this year or you’re generally just interested in the VITA program, you have one of three ways you can go about taking advantage of it. The first option available through the VITA program is meeting with one of the United Way’s IRS certified preparers in person. The second option is the DIY option, that allows you get your paperwork prepared yourself thanks to the help of online software that the VITA program can connect you with. And finally the third option is the “Valet VITA” option which is ideal if you don’t have the time to sit and wait at one of the VITA sites (VITA is first come first served). “Valet VITA” scans your documents and then you can pick them up, along with your completed return, at a convenient time.
While shuffling through the paperwork and the filing process can be often impersonal, Autenreith says that in her years as a VITA volunteer there have been memorable moments.
“There was one couple that came in and she had been unemployed for like a month because the restaurant she worked at had burned down. And so, it’s just like things like that, that people let you into their lives a little,” she said.
One important thing to note: all VITA sites do not open until Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Click here to find a VITA site near you.