3OYS: Free tax preparation begins Feb. 1

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- It's that time of year again: tax season. But instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars to pay someone to prepare your taxes, you just might qualify to have your taxes prepared for free.

Valley resident Evelyn Lebron Alavardo told 3 On Your Side a year ago,  "I came here; I found a little flyer... that says I can come here and get them done for free."

You may recall our 3 On Your Side report from last tax season, when Alvarado was able to pocket thousands of dollars through a tax preparing program. Now, she's looking forward to getting her taxes done again, free of charge, in 2014.

The VITA program is set up in a dozen different locations throughout Maricopa County. Here's how it works: If you earned less than $51,567 last year, then you qualify to have your taxes done absolutely free. It’s all paid for through something called the Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign.

Briselda Rodriguez coordinates the VITA program in Phoenix. "The Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign has been in existence with the City of Phoenix for 10 years," she says.

Briselda says the program is a lifesaver for low-to-moderate income families who can't figure out how to file taxes themselves or can't afford to have someone do it for them. "The tax preparers we have there are very well versed of the different schedules, credits and deductions," she says.

Briselda tells us more than 42,000 people throughout the county have used the free program over the past decade to get their taxes done. And she wonders why more haven't taken advantage of the program since it could help so many.

"Take advantage of the program," she urges. "The only thing you have to give is your time. It's free. You can have your taxes prepared for free."

For more information about getting your taxes prepared for free, click on the links below.


Phoenix Offers Free Tax-Filing Services Beginning Feb. 1