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Tucson – The free tax help Pima County and United Way have been offering since 2016 will look different this year via a simple online process.
The Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, a partnership between Pima County’s Community & Workforce Development (CWD) and the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, is largely virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The VITA program is available to households earning up to $ 66,000 annually.
Taxpayers can get help from Internal Revenue Service certified tax accountants by accessing GetYourRefund.org from their cell phone, tablet or computer. On the website, the taxpayer answers questions on an admission form and can chat with a specialist online if they need help. The next step is to securely upload the tax documents.
A VITA volunteer will call to confirm everything is in order for the tax return (click for a checklist for documents). The tax return is then prepared, reviewed by another certified volunteer, and sent back via encrypted email to the taxpayer, who can approve and authorize the electronic filing.
The tax return starts on February 12th.
“Like so many other things in this pandemic, taxes will move into a virtual format. Sometimes it feels challenging, but I’ve gone through the training and it’s really easy to understand and use, ”said Bonnie Bazata, who coordinates the VITA program for Pima County. “However, if you still need technology support, you can contact one of our County One-Stops to get access to a computer and get help from our friendly staff.”
For those unfamiliar with technology or who don’t have access to technology, there are two options:
1. Taxpayers are encouraged to use computers in Pima County’s one-stop shop to begin tax refunds. There are three one-stop centers, two for adults and one for teenagers (see map), with resource rooms and computers. There is 45 minutes that should be enough to begin your refund. There are usually fewer customers in the afternoons and Fridays.
- Cinema Service Center: 2797 E. Ajo Way
- Sullivan Jackson Employment Center: 400 E. 26th St.
- Youth Employment Center: 320 N. Commerce Park Loop
2. Limited and modified personal tax assistance is available with several options – making an appointment, roadside assistance, drive through or drop off. As the pandemic may cause changes in schedules, visit this United Way website to check for updated personal locations and schedules.
In the past, the employees of the district coordinated the personal “valet” service. However, when last year’s tax season was cut short by the pandemic and in-person VITA events were canceled, taxpayers were able to move to GetYourRefund.org from 2016 to 2019. Pima County’s VITA program served 458 taxpayers, resulting in 485,072 tax returns And savings of $ 116,250 in tax preparation. The 2020 figures are incomplete due to the move to online services.