If you need help with your income taxes, free help may be just around the corner.
Local tax-help sites for low- to moderate-income taxpayers have started opening, including a new site that opened Tuesday at the YWCA Tucson, 525 N. Bonita Ave., west of Interstate 10 off West St. Mary's Road.
The sites, which offer free return preparation and in some cases free electronic filing, are part of the Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, with support from the United Way of Southern Arizona, Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona and site sponsors.
Free VITA services, provided by IRS-certified volunteers, are available to individuals earning less than $25,000 and families earning less than $50,000.
Another site is open at the Pio Decimo Center, 848 S. Seventh Ave., and more than a dozen other VITA locations will open this week and into mid-February.
On Friday, the Armory Park site, 220 S. Fifth Ave., will begin offering extended "supersite" hours Tuesdays through Saturdays until Feb. 11, dropping to Thursdays and Saturdays only beginning Feb. 16.
Other tax-help sites offered by the AARP Foundation under the IRS' Tax Counseling for the Elderly program open Feb. 1.
2011 Deadline extended
• The filing deadline for 2011 federal and state income-tax returns is Tuesday, April 17. Like last year, the date was extended from April 15 because of a holiday in the District of Columbia.
Finding a site
• Most VITA sites are open two to three days per week; for locations and days and hours of operation, go to www.unitedwaytucson.org/vita or dial 211 (Community Information and Referral)
• Other VITA sites not listed on some online schedules are: New Spirit Church, 8701 E. Spanish Trail (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays starting this Saturday); National Bank of Arizona locations at 3611 N. Campbell Ave. (Monday and Wednesday starting Jan. 30) and 7601 N. Oracle Road, Oro Valley (Tuesday starting Jan. 31); and Green Valley VITA (Volunteer Individual Tax Assistance program), 101 S. La Cañada Drive, Suite 30 B, (Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays).
• For AARP Tax-Aide sites, go to aztax-aide.org or call AARP Arizona at 1-866-389-5649 (toll-free).
What to bring
• Photo identification for taxpayer (and spouse);
• Social Security numbers or Individual Tax Identification numbers for each person listed on the tax return, including dependents;
• All wage and earnings statements (Forms W-2); interest, dividend or miscellaneous income and/or mortgage interest paid statements (Forms 1099 or 1098);
• A copy of last year's tax return (if you have it) and any other information concerning income and expenses for 2011;
• If filing jointly, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.
• Some VITA sites, including the Armory Park site, offer computer kiosks where taxpayers can prepare and file taxes themselves for free.
• The United Way, in partnership with Walmart and other sponsors, is offering MyFreeTaxes, which allows taxpayers with incomes below $58,000 to prepare and file taxes online. Go to www.unitedwaytucson.org/vita/self-prep
United Way is partnering with the local Microbusiness Advancement Center (MAC) to offer free assistance to small-business owners and self-employed taxpayers filing Schedule C returns. Contact MAC at 620-1241 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Compiled by David Wichner