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Jan. 20, 2016

Volunteers Ready to Help with Free Tax Preparation

By Councilmember Rene Lopez

The City of Chandler is once again offering FREE tax preparation services through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The VITA program was formed in 2004 to assist families that earn $53,000 or less annually, the elderly and those with disabilities. Through this program, residents can expect guidance in completing the necessary forms to maximize all allowable deductions, without paying for a private tax service.

The VITA program also focuses on the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable tax credit for low to moderate-income working families. Families that earn up to $53,267 annually may qualify for a credit up to $6,242 per household. Many residents are not aware that they may qualify for this tax credit, allowing millions of dollars to go unclaimed each year. 

In partnership with the Internal Revenue Services, Chandler provided training to volunteers interested in assisting our residents with filing their 2015 taxes. These volunteers are trained and prepared to process most federal and state returns using the 1040 and 1040EZ forms, along with other related documents. Last year, 370 residents participated in the program and a total of $729,717 in tax refunds was returned to Chandler residents. These returned tax dollars can help these families with every day needs, special projects, or something special such as vacations. The local economy will also benefit with money spent at Chandler businesses.   

Services will become available the first week of February and will run through April 15. There are five tax preparation sites in Chandler and one in Sun Lakes. Each site will be set up to assist residents seeking assistance on a walk-in basis. Residents should come prepared with their W-2 and 1099 forms, photo ID, Social Security cards for each family member, tax deduction and credit information, and a copy of last year’s tax return.

I’d like to personally thank First Credit Union, Chandler Christian Community Center, the Chandler CARE Center, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, and the Chandler Hamilton Library Branch for opening their doors and providing space for these appointments. 

This service would not be possible without the collaboration of these community partners, and the dedication of the many volunteers, and City staff members for their hard work and dedication. The involvement is instrumental in the success of Chandler’s VITA program and keeping these dollars in our community to ensure Chandler stays a great place to Work, Live and Play.

If your family is in need of assistance, I encourage you to take advantage of this great opportunity.

For more information and to find VITA site locations, visit chandleraz.gov/VITA.