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You may qualify for free tax preparation

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The Volunteer Tax Assistance Program offers free tax preparation for those who make under $54,000. (Source: 3TV) The Volunteer Tax Assistance Program offers free tax preparation for those who make under $54,000. (Source: 3TV)
VITA provides tax preparers who are trained and certified by the Internal Revenue Service all in an effort to get your taxes done properly. (Source: 3TV) VITA provides tax preparers who are trained and certified by the Internal Revenue Service all in an effort to get your taxes done properly. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Getting your taxes done and done right can sometimes cost hundreds of dollars, but if you make under $54,000 a year, then there’s a program for you.

It's that time of year when we all have to file our taxes. But, instead of paying someone hundreds of dollars to prepare your taxes, low to moderate income households can actually have their taxes done free of charge.

Briselda Rodriguez-Huff is with a program called The Volunteer Tax Assistance Program, also known as VITA. 

"Anyone who's earned under $54,000, we can prepare their taxes and e-file them for free the federal and in state," Rodriguez-Huff said.

VITA, she says, provides tax preparers who are trained and certified by the Internal Revenue Service all in an effort to get your taxes done properly.

"Over the last 13 years, we've assisted over 56,000 households bringing in an estimated $74 million of federal refunds back to the City of Phoenix," Rodriguez-Huff said.

Lorenzo Amaro and his wife Josephine say the tax preparing program is perfect for them. They used the free service last year to file their taxes and get their refund and are now doing it again.

"Because we're like low-income people and these services right here are free for the public and that's the main thing that I like really and this location is very close to where we live," Amaro said.

But whether you use VITA or not to file your taxes keep this in mind: Tax refunds are expected to be delayed for Lorenzo and millions of others. That's because the IRS is taking more time this year to review tax returns in an effort to uncover identity thieves filing false claims. The problem is huge with $6 billion being paid one year in fraudulent refunds that the IRS realized were fraudulent later.

"The refunds are expected to be released by the week of Feb. 15 by the IRS. It depends on the credits that the person is eligible for with their return," Rodriguez-Huff said.

And according to the IRS, those who do qualify for a refund won't actually arrive in bank accounts until late February.

For additional information about the VITA and sites where you have your taxes prepared visit: 

https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/jsp/vita.jsp?zip=85003&lat=33.4495511&lng=-112.0789355&radius=5

https://www.phoenix.gov/humanservices/programs/volunteer/vita-tax

https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/2017-tax-filing-season-opens-today

https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/jsp/vita.jsp?zip=85013&lat=33.5080943&lng=-112.08638740000003&radius=5   

https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/jsp/vita.jsp?zip=85305&lat=33.5321111&lng=-112.25628499999999&radius=5

https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/jsp/vita.jsp?zip=85283&lat=33.3684114&lng=-111.93436359999998&radius=5

Copyright 2017 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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