SAN ANTONIO – Jacquelyn Coleman, with her W-2 and other paperwork in hand, waited in line Tuesday morning at the Claude Black Community Center. Inside, volunteers logged onto laptops to help their neighbors file their income tax returns.
“I prefer somebody else do them,” Coleman said. “I don’t trust myself with numbers and figures.”
At 19 sites around San Antonio the Volunteer Tax Assistance program, or VITA, is set up through tax season to offer free tax preparation to qualifying households.
To qualify for the program, an individual or family must have earned less than $55,000 last year.
Organizers expect approximately 30,000 people to show up over the tax stretch.
“It’s complicated for lots of our folks,” said Jason Aleman, with United Way San Antonio.
Taxes can be filed by mail, but electronic filing is most common and expedient. And people who aren’t computer savvy say filing online can be intimidating.
“The technology divide is a huge deal,” Aleman said.
VITA SA is sponsored by the IRS, City of San Antonio, Bexar County, the United Way of San Antonio and Catholic Charities.
If you are due a refund, the fastest way to get it is by having it directly deposited in your bank account. The IRS says most refunds are complete within 21 days.
If that’s not fast enough, VITA SA is offering something new — a refund anticipation loan, or RAL.
While such loans have often been considered predatory with high interest rates or fees, Aleman said this one is not.
“That means if I am really in need of getting my return immediately, I can take out a refund anticipation loan with River City Federal Credit Union at our VITA sites and be sure I will not be charged more than $25,” Aleman said.
Locations of sites and times of operations can be found at www.vitasa.org. Taxpayers are urged to check ahead for wait times and bring necessary documents.
Before you go to a VITA Site in the San Antonio area, please bring the following items with you:
- Bring proof of identification, such as a driver’s license or government-issued photo I.D.
- Social Security Card or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) for you, your spouse and the dependents you will claim
- Birth dates for you, your spouse and dependents you will claim
- Bank routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit
- To file taxes electronically on a married filing joint tax return, BOTH spouses must be present to sign the required forms.
- Bring last year’s tax return. If you have it, it can really help.
- Wage and earning statement(s) Form W-2 from all employers
- Annuity or retirement: 1099-R
- Social Security Statement: 1099-SSA
- Gambling winnings: W2-G
- Interest and dividend statements from banks (Forms 1099-INT and 1099-DIV)
- Mortgage interest: 1098
- Real estate taxes paid (statement or receipt)
- Child care expenses: provider receipt showing provider identification number
- Medical expenses with detailed receipts
- Charitable contributions
- Education: Form 1098-T Tuition Statement; must have the school EIN
- Student Loan Interest: 1098-E
- All 1095-A’s if you used the healthcare exchange