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  • Pima County teams with United Way to offer free tax assistance

    Employees with a family income under $66,000 can take advantage of free tax-preparation assistance, thanks to Pima County’s partnership with United Way’s Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.taxes

    The County is coordinating sites for the “Valet” version of VITA.  This is a great process for busy people because it enables taxpayers to bring in their documents – which get reviewed, scanned, and uploaded to a secure server – all in about 20 minutes. Seven to 14 days later (sometimes faster), the return is securely emailed or can be picked up at the United Way office.

    You can just drop in or you can make an appointment and get through the process even faster. The key is bringing all the right documents, which include: 
    Picture I.D. for taxpayer and spouse. Both spouses must be present to sign documents! Social Security card for EACH family member

    • Proof of income, including W2s and 1099s
    • Picture I.D. for taxpayer and spouse. Both spouses must be present to sign documents! Social Security card for EACH family member

    • Proof of income, including W2s and 1099s

    • Account and routing numbers for direct deposit of refunds 
    • Documentation for deductible expenses such as home mortgage interest or real estate taxes. 
    • Forms 5498-SA and 1099-SA for Health Savings Accounts and 1095A for Affordable Care Act 
    Sessions are offered at eight rotating locations. (See schedule below.) It starts Feb. 5 at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone Ave. 

    “Taxes can be a headache and time-consuming,” said Bonnie Bazata, who directs the County’s Ending Poverty Now Program, which operates under Community Services, Employment and Training Department. “The Valet VITA program simplifies the process while providing the highest quality service – for free.”

    Curtis Stokelin was the first employee to use the free tax service when it launched three years ago. He’s still an advocate for it.

    “I used VITA because it was convenient and the process was very easy,” said Stokelin, a workforce development specialist at the County’s Kino Service Center. In years past, he had spent more than $130 with a tax-preparation service. 

    “I’ll definitely use VITA again because it works and it is fast!” he said.

    Bazata is pleased that program organizers have been able to offer the assistance at a wide variety of locations, enabling some employees to get tax assistance right in their own building.

    “Pima County’s effort is a collaboration across several departments, and we are excited to bring this program in its third year to more of our employees and to the people we serve,” Bazata said. 
    Dates and locations of events: 
    • Feb. 5-7 - Joel D. Valdez Main Library • 101 N. Stone Ave.;  Contact: Ken Zambos, 594-5573
    • February 12-14 - Abrams Public Health Center; 3950 S. Country Club Road, Room 1104; Contact: Jenelle Sensenig, 724-9382 (Will stay open till 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday)
    • February 19-21 - Pima County Housing Center;  801 W. Congress; Contact: Rachel Ramirez, 724-2480
    • February 26-28 -  Kino Veterans’ Workforce Center; 2801 E. Ajo Way; Contact: Jess Grover, 724-2636
    • March 5-7 - Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department; 2955 W. Calle Agua Nueva;  Contact: Steve King, 724-6207
    • March 12-14 - Sullivan Jackson Employment Center; 400 E. 26th St.; Contact: Yvette Cruz, 724-7310
    • March 19-21 - Kino Service Center; 2797 E. Ajo Way; Contact: Murney Brown, 724-5716
    • March 26-28 - Rio Nuevo Service Center; 340 N. Commerce Park Loop, Tortolita Building; Contact: Diana Garcia, 724-7608
    Every week, the hours will be the same: Tuesdays - 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesdays - Noon to 5 p.m., and Thursdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
    • Check eligibility at www.unitedwaytucson.org/vita. Direct questions to Bonnie Bazata, bonnie.bazata@pima.gov, 724-3704.
    • County departments that would like posters or flyers to post in their offices should contact Bazata.
    • Questions on VITA sites should be directed to 724-4727. Tax questions may be sent to United Way, 903-9000.

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