VITA FAQ

VITA stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. VITA is a program that provides free tax preparation for households earning up to $64,000 and helps them access all credits for which they are eligible, including the Earned Income Tax Credit.

 

Since 2003, VITA has brought back more than $100 million in federal refunds and credits through the VITA Task Force of Arizona.

There are many ways in which VITA differs from paid preparation. We invite you to try VITA and see for yourself!

 

  • VITA tax preparation is completely free and saves filers an average of $250 per return.

 

  • VITA tax preparers have completed extensive training and are IRS certified - this certification is not required for paid preparers in the state of Arizona.

 

  • Each completed return undergoes a separate review process to ensure quality and accuracy.

 

  • VITA never offers predatory lending options, such as "instant refunds" or "refund anticipation loans."

 

  • VITA can connect taxpayers to banking services for direct deposit of tax refunds, even for individuals in ChexSystems.

 

  • VITA can connect taxpayers to savings programs, such as SaveYourRefund, to make the most of their refunds.

 

  • VITA can connect taxpayers to healthcare education and enrollment assistance from certified Navigators, at no cost to the taxpayer.

VITA offers three preparation options to fit your needs.

  1. Use free self-preparation software anyplace, at any time, by visiting freefile.unitedwaytucson.org.
  2. Use Valet VITA at any site to have your tax documents scanned and pick up the completed return at a later date.
  3. Meet with an IRS-certified preparer in person at community sites for same-day tax preparation.

During the tax season, VITA sites begin opening in late January and close by the filing deadline.

The full site listing and schedule for the 2017 tax season will be posted online in October 2016.

VITA sites are walk-in only. If you have a limited amount of time to wait, consider using Valet VITA or self-preparation.

Required:

  • Both spouses, if filing jointly
  • Picture ID for taxpayer (and spouse, if filing jointly)
  • Social security card (or acceptable alternative - see below) for each person listed on the return
  • Proof of income, like W2s and 1099s
  • Documentation of expenses
  • If anyone in the household is insured through the Marketplace, Form 1095-A and dependents' proof of income

Recommended:

  • Account and routing numbers for direct deposit of refunds
  • Prior year tax return

Acceptable Alternatives for Social Security Card:

  • Photocopy of Social Security card
  • Social Security Benefit Statement (Form 1099-SSA)
  • Medicare card with Social Security number
  • Military ID with Social Security number
  • Any document issued by the Social Security Administration with Social Security number - last four digits must be visible

Please note: Per IRS regulations, a return cannot be prepared without the required documents.

Valet VITA is a service designed to save taxpayers time. Instead of waiting at a VITA site to meet with a tax preparer, taxpayers can use Valet VITA to have their documents scanned to be prepared within a few days. Taxpayers are then able to leave the VITA site, documents in hand, and go about their day. Once the return is complete, the taxpayers are called to return to the original intake site to pick up a hard copy of their return and sign the consent forms.  At select sites, taxpayers have the option of receiving their completed return via encrypted email. Most Valet VITA returns are processed in 5-7 business days.

Taxpayers with $64,000 or less in household income can complete their state and federal returns for free by using software powered by TurboTax or H&R Block. Self-preparation is the most convenient way for taxpayers to access free tax preparation through VITA, as it can be used at any time, from anyplace, at freefile.unitedwaytucson.org.

Filing requirements are based on filing status, age, gross income, sources of income, and dependent status. Take a look at the tables below or visit a VITA site to determine whether or not you're required to file a tax return. Remember, even if you're not required to file a return, there may be reasons you choose to file. For example, you may be entitled to a refund of your withholding or eligible to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Receipt of Advanced Premium Tax Credits through the Health Insurance Marketplace creates a filing requirement, regardless of whether taxpayers would need to file otherwise.

 

Most People Who Must File:

Filing Status Age Income (minimum) Self-Employment Income (minimum)
Single Under 65 $10,300 $400
 " " 65+ $11,850

$400

Head of Household Under 65 $13,250 $400
 " " 65+ $14,800 $400
Married Filing Jointly Under 65 (both spouses) $20,600 $400
" "  65+ (one spouse) $21,850 $400
" " 65+ (both spouses) $23,100 $400
Married Filing Separately Any age $4,000 $400
Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child(ren) Under 65 $16,600 $400
" "  65+ $17,850 $400

 

Children and Other Dependents:

Dependent Type Age Unearned Income (minimum) Earned Income (minimum) Gross Income (larger of)
Single Under 65 (and not blind) $1,050 $6,300 $1,050 or up to $5,950 earned income + $350
" " Either 65+ or blind $2,600 $7,850 $2,600 or up to $5,950 earned income + $1,900
" "  Both 65+ and blind $4,150 $9,400 $4,150 or up to $5,950 earned income + $3,450
Married Under 65 (and not blind) $1,050 $6,300 $5 if spouse filed separate return with itemized deductions or $1,050 or up to $5,950 earned income + $350
 " " Either 65+ or blind $2,300 $7,550 $5 if spouse filed separate return with itemized deductions or $2,300 or up to $5,950 earned income + $1,600
 " " Both 65+ and blind $3,550 $8,800 $5 if spouse filed separate return with itemized deductions or $3,550 or up to $5,950 earned income + $2,850

In 2017, the deadline to file will be April 18.

We recommend filing your return during the tax season to avoid penalties and late fees; however, help may be available until October 15 for those who need to file late returns, prior year returns or amendments. 

To schedule an appointment, call 520-903-3998.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax credit for low income working taxpayers. You must have wages from a job in order to file for this credit, but you do not have to have children. You can qualify for this tax credit based on your annual income and the number of members in your household. If any of the following apply to you, you may qualify for EITC.

  • Income under $14,880 ($20,430 if married filing jointly) if you do not have a qualifying child,
  • Income under $39,296 ($44,846 if married filing jointly) if you have one qualifying child,
  • Income under $44,648 ($50,198 if married filing jointly) if you have two qualifying children, or
  • Income under $47,955 ($53,505 if married filing jointly) if you have three or more qualifying children

This credit can increase your annual income by as much as 50%, so we encourage you to come to a VITA site or use self-preparation software to see if you are eligible.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a federal law signed by the President in 2010. The law expands access to health insurance and creates a requirement to maintain coverage. Beginning in 2015, taxpayers will be responsible for the following during tax time:

  • Reporting health coverage, or lack of coverage, for all members of the household
  • Applying for or claiming exemptions from coverage requirements if uninsured and eligible for such exemptions
  • Calculating the Individual Shared Responsibility Payment (often referred to as a penalty) if uninsured and ineligible for exemptions
  • Reconciling Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTC)
  • Claiming Premium Tax Credits (PTC) not claimed in advance

When having your taxes prepared, you may need to bring additional documentation to aid in the preparation of your return. If you are uninsured, you may need to pay a penalty if you are not eligible for an exemption. VITA assists taxpayers with all tax time responsibilities related to the Affordable Care Act at no cost.

The ACA Individual Shared Responsibility Payment (ISRP) is often referred to as a "penalty." Taxpayers who were uninsured or have family members who were uninsured in 2016, and who do not qualify for exemptions, will have to pay the penalty.

The penalty is calculated by taking the greater of the following:

  • 2.5% of the household income above the filing threshold (up to a cap), or
  • $695 per adult and $347.50 per child (up to $2,085 per household).

Coverage exemptions excuse taxpayers, or members of their household, who were uninsured during the tax year from the Individual Shared Responsibility Payment (or "penalty"). There are two types of exemptions – one is claimed on the tax return, the other is granted through the Marketplace. Exemptions claimed on the tax return do not require an application, but those granted through the Marketplace do.

To view a full list of exemptions, visit irs.gov.

To schedule an appointment with a Navigator for help in completing the Marketplace exemption application, visit the Connector.

United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona has in-person assisters (Health Insurance Navigators) available to help you and members of your household enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace or the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) at no cost.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment with a United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona Navigator, call (520) 903-3950, or visit the Connector.

Enrollment dates:

  • AHCCCS - Year-Round Open Enrollment
  • Marketplace - November 1, 2016 - January 31, 2017

 

Taxpayers with specific questions about their taxes can visit www.irs.gov/help-&-resources, or call or visit the local IRS or Arizona Department or Revenue offices.

 

IRS - Tucson Office

300 W Congress, 85701

(520) 205-5008

Monday - Friday 8:30AM - 4:30PM

 

Arizona Department of Revenue - Tucson Office

400 W Congress, 85701

8:00AM - 5:00PM