tax prep

January 31 was the deadline for employers to send W-2 forms. Have you started preparing your tax paperwork? If you earn less than $55,000, and if tax forms usually send you to a commercial tax preparer – email or call Gila County Community Services staff for free tax preparation.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is an outreach program through Gila County Community Action Program. Pandemic precautions have changed the way staffers intake tax paperwork and return completed forms. With 25 years of tax preparation – and a decade running the VITA program – Dorine Prine has keen insight into tax deductions clients would unknowingly miss.

Call or email is the most efficient way to contact these IRS-certified VITA tax preparers. Call 928-474-7192 in Payson or 928-425-7631 in Globe or email Dorine at dprine@gilacountyaz.gov for more information.

VITA volunteers estimate tax preparation fees average about $300; some businesses deduct that from clients’ expected refund or charge high interest refund loans.

“Gila County’s VITA team completed 837 income tax returns last year: 476 in Payson, 286 in Globe and 75 in Hayden. We helped secure a total amount of refunds of $1,103,845 – and since this service is free, that saved low-income taxpayers more than $350,000 they would otherwise have paid in tax preparation fees and avoided refund loans – money that was theirs to use for groceries, car payments, utility bills or other daily essentials,” Prine said.

For more than a decade Gila County’s VITA team has prepared tax papers and filing for residents whose household income is $55,000 or less a year. VITA started when Gila County Community Services Director Malissa Buzan realized low-income residents need assistance completing and filing tax paperwork. The popular program keeps tax refund dollars within Gila County – and in the wallets of taxpayers.

“This is just one of many ways Gila County Community Action offers measurable benefits in our communities,” adds Prine. “Few people enjoy doing taxes – but this is definitely a fulfilling part of our jobs. We take pride in helping hard-working low-income clients receive the full amount of their tax refund, and avoid the high cost of tax preparation.”

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