Volunteer tax experts are fanning out across the Tucson area to help low- to moderate-income residents prepare and file their income taxes for free.
The first of 26 free tax-preparation sites sponsored by the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and Catholic Community Services are now open as part of the Internal Revenue Service’s community-based Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, program.
Pima County is hosting VITA between Feb. 4 and March 26 at eight sites, including the Joel D. Valdez Main Library downtown, the Kino Veteran’s Workforce Center and the Rio Nuevo Service Center.
Meanwhile, AARP opened 14 of its Tax-Aide help sites over the weekend.
Those sites are geared toward taxpayers 50 years old and up but will serve anyone.
The VITA services are open to taxpayers with 2019 adjusted gross incomes of up to $66,000.
Taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $69,000 or less who don’t need in-person help can get free use of tax-prep software and file electronic returns through the IRS Free File program.
Other local VITA sites will open throughout February into early March, and some sites will offer extended hours in the days leading up to the tax-filing deadline of April 15.
Catholic Community Services also is hosting VITA sites in Sierra Vista and Tombstone.
Some sites offer “VITA Valet” service, allowing taxpayers to drop off their documents and return for their completed tax returns.
Last year, the local VITA sites helped nearly 17,000 taxpayers, resulting in refunds totaling more than $26 million and saving an estimated $4.2 million in tax-prep fees, the United Way said.
Liz Thomey, program director at Catholic Community Services, said about 20% of low-income taxpayers annually still fail to claim the federal earned income credit, or EIC.
For the 2019 tax year, the EIC is available to single taxpayers with annual income starting at $15,570 and up to $50,162 with three or more children, and to married joint filers with income between $21,370 and up to $55,952 with three or more children.
“Generally, people are taking advantage of tax credits, however, when filing on their own, they sometimes don’t understand the rules and may make mistakes that could be avoided,” Thomey said.
Taxpayers planning to get help at the VITA and AARP sites should bring along all pertinent documents, including government-issued identification and Social Security or tax I.D. numbers for all family members and W-2 and 1099 forms.
To find local VITA sites, including days and hours of operation, go to tucne.ws/uwtax
- or call 1-800-906-9887.
- To find AARP Tax-Aide sites, go to
- or call 1-888-687-2277
- To take advantage of the IRS Free File program (online only), go to