Chandler's VITA program is open to assist qualified income-tax payers
By Vice Mayor Kevin Hartke
The annual process of filing taxes triggers a rollercoaster of emotions for most families. Waiting until the last minute to file can heighten the levels of stress and anxiety that could otherwise be avoided. While the dreaded April 15 deadline is fast-approaching, there is still time to get the upper hand. The City of Chandler is committed to helping eligible residents prepare tax returns for free through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This service is offered at five locations throughout the City on a walk-in basis until Saturday, April 8.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has partnered with the City of Chandler to train VITA volunteers since 2004. The program has been incredibly successful at helping residents claim tax returns and save thousands of dollars in tax preparation fees. Last year alone, volunteers helped 1,860 families claim more than $2.2 million in tax refunds and save approximately $400,000 in tax preparation charges. The 59 volunteers who underwent extensive training earlier this year are eager and ready to share their knowledge and assist as many Chandler residents for the 2016 tax year.
The VITA program is available to individuals who are 60 and older; individuals or families earning $54,000 or less, or those who have lost their jobs or suffered a hardship. It also is available to individuals with disabilities and those with limited English abilities. In Chandler, Spanish interpreters are available at most VITA sites.
While residents are served on a first-come, first-served basis, it is important to arrive prepared with key documents in hand, such as W-2 and 1099 forms, social security and picture identification cards for all members of the household, prior tax returns and other tax deduction materials. For details, call Chandler's Neighborhood Resources Office at 480-782-4320 or visit chandleraz.gov/VITA.
Regardless of eligibility with the VITA program, the complexity of tax filing can be addressed by breaking up the job into smaller tasks and seeking professional advice, when needed. Chandler libraries also provide outstanding resources, free of charge.
As one of the most anxiety-filled days of the year approaches, let us turn this block of time into an opportunity to be more proactive, organized and financially savvy. Chandler offers the resources to make this all possible.