Free tax help program goes curbside

VITA program available to households that earn $55,000 or less

SAN ANTONIO – Arthur Dukes was first in line Tuesday morning at the Claude Black Community Center to get free help filing his federal income taxes.

“I’m serious about my money,” he said.

But instead of sitting in a room filled with people as is the norm, Dukes was able to drop off this documents.

This year, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has gone curbside.

“This year, we will be preparing tax returns by drop-off or email,” said Christine Serda with the City of San Antonio Department of Human Services, which helps sponsor and manage the program.

Those earning $55,000 or less are eligible for the free assistance.

Instead of the usual 19 or more sites, VITA is set up this year at nine locations. Tables are set up where taxpayers can pick up a packet that includes a checklist of what they need to file. To accommodate physical distancing, VITA is asking taxpayers to make their own copies of their documents.

“So, if they are able to make their copies, they can pick up the packet and complete it in the car and drop it off or take it home and take their time filling out the form and adding documents,” Serda said.

Email is another option. People can scan or send photos of their forms and documents by encrypted email.

Once the return is prepared, the volunteers will call the taxpayer in to sign.

Last year, VITA San Antonio filed some 32,000 returns and expect to do at least that many this year

The goal is to help as many people as they can maximize their tax return by claiming any credits available to them. The program helped residents claim nearly $16 million in earned income tax credits last year, according to Serda.

The service also help cash-strapped families from having to pay a tax preparer. Jose Vasquez said he’s grateful for that.

“I would have to pay 50 bucks, 60 dollars,” he said. “That’s 50, 60 dollars I can buy groceries at H-E-B.”

Although the tax work has begun, the IRS will not begin accepting returns until Feb. 12. The pandemic has forced changes and delays. One thing that has not changed is the tax filing deadline, which is still April 15.

Some sites opened Jan. 25, and the remainder will open Feb. 8. To see the sites and the hours, click here.

Sites include:

  • Claude Black Community Center at 2805 E. Commerce
  • Guadalupe Community Center at 1801 Cesar Chavez Boulevard
  • St. Philip’s College at 1801 Martin Luther King
  • St. Mary’s University at 2507 NW 36th Street
  • The Neighborhood Place at 3014 Rivas Street
  • Willie Velasquez Center at 1302 N. Zarzamora Street
  • Jewish Community Center at 12500 NW Military Drive
  • Palo Alto College at 1400 W. Villaret
  • Presa Community Center at 3721 S. Presa Street

The following documentation is needed:

Identification

  • Proof of Identification—Drivers License, Government issued Photo I.D.
  • Social Security Card or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) for you, your spouse and dependents you will claim
  • Birth dates for you, your spouse and 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
  • Last years tax return, if you have it, can really help

Income

  • The dates and amounts of any stimulus checks received.
  • 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)

Expenses

  • Mortgage interest: 1098
  • Real estate taxes paid (statement or receipt)
  • Child care expenses: provider receipt showing provider Identification Number
  • Medical Expenses: detailed receipts
  • Charitable contributions
  • Education: Form 1098-T Tuition Statement; must have the school EIN
  • Student Loan Interest: 1098-E

VITA SA is sponsored by the City of San Antonio, Catholic Charities, United Way, Broadway Bank, Frost Bank, HEB, H&R Block, River City Federal Credit Union and supported by the IRS.


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