Free tax help available for late filers

VITA offers free prep­aration, filing for incomes less than $55,000


SAN ANTONIO - With the deadline to get those tax returns to Uncle Sam one week away, VITA -- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance -- is prepared for  procrastinators.

"I expect a lot of people to come in," said Jose Villanueva with VITA's 503 Castroville Road site. "Normally, those that drag their feet are usually the ones that owe."

VITA has 23 sites manned with IRS-trained volunteers to crunch the numbers on basic tax returns. Individuals and households that earn up to $55,000 a year are eligible for the free service.

"It's intimidating," said Tina Castanon, who used VITA to get her taxes electronically filed. She said she was not comfortable filing on her own and trying to make sure she took advantage of all of the available tax credits.

"They do child tax credit, if you're paying child care as well, and if you have a home," she said.

If this year is like last, VITA will do more than 34,000 returns, saving folks $9 in tax preparation fees and recovering $65 million in refunds.

Some filers even make money by participating in the SaveUSA match-savings program. Those eligible who put all or part of their refund in a SaveUSA account for one year can earn a 50-percent match up to $500.

Jose  Cosme did just that.

"I put a thousand dollars in, and I'll get $1,500 in February, and that's just from me leaving it in their bank. They'll give me $500," she said.

VITA filers should bring valid photo identification with them to the site. 

They should also bring Social Security cards or Individual Tax Identification Numbers for each family member, all W-2 forms and  a copy of last year's tax return and 1099 forms if applicable. 

For people filing jointly, both must be present to sign the return.

VITA sites will be open through April 15. To see the list of sites and hours:

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.


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