Tax Help for the Unemployed

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"I've never been unemployed for this long... ever" Joann Zannoni tells 3 On Your Side as we sit and talk at her Phoenix home. Every day she checks the newspaper and the internet for possible job listings.

Despite the fact that she is college educated and has an extensive background in marketing, Joann has been out of work for eight months. "It's unfortunate," she says, "I've had to lower my pride and take advantage of state assistance with my medical and food."

Joann has found people in the community willing to help. After finding a coupon offering free tax help for the unemployed, Joann, at first skeptical, contacted Aashish Parekh, owner of Finex Accounting and Tax services.

Parekh did her taxes for free last year and has agreed to help again this year. "It's not fun to do taxes, " He told us when we visited his office near 44th Street and Ray Road in Phoenix, "most people hate to do taxes."

Parekh, who has been in the tax business for 20 years, is providing free tax-filing and preparation to the unemployed; he's trying to help Valley folks already hard hit hold on to as much money as possible.

He told us if a person has been aggressively job searching, a lot of these expenses can be written off. He tells clients to keep close track of expenses when looking for a job. Also, Parekh says there are huge advantages come tax time to money spent on continuing education and improving job skills.

We asked Parekh if he thinks people are being smarter with their money? He believes they are saying, "Lately a lot of things have changed."

Things have, indeed changed for Joann Zannoni. A tax bill is something she just cannot afford while looking for a job and trying to hold on to her house. Despite it all, she still holds on to hope saying, "There are lows and highs when you're unemployed, but you just got to keep going out there."

Finex Accounting and Tax Services has two Valley locations:

20 S Power Road #105 in Mesa

480-924-7500

4425 E Agave Rd. in Phoenix

480-829-0020

They are offering free tax help to the first 100 people who apply and prove they are unemployed each month until tax time.