Taxes
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Tax season is well under way, with the April 15 deadline quickly approaching. However, because of changes to tax code this year, it is estimated that of the more than 2.8 million expected to file in Arizona, more than 259,000 of them will request an extension.

Bill Brunson, of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), said filers should be aware of the earned income tax credit (EITC) that is available to qualified candidates.

“If your income is $51,000 or less, you might qualify for earned-income tax credit, which could mean a return of up to $5,800.”

The EITC is a financial boost for people working hard to make ends meet. Millions of workers may qualify for the first time this year due to changes in their marital, parental and financial status.

The EITC varies based on income and family size. The average EITC in Pima County is around $2,384.

“(EITC) could generate a refund, or offset what you owe the IRS this year,” Brunson said. ““We just want residents to be aware that they could be eligible. Some may have been laid off in 2012, and not know they qualify. Others may be doing taxes by hand, and may not know they qualify.”

There is free tax help available for those filing by hand, visit irs.gov for more information.

While some are still filing taxes by hand, the number of residents filing online continues to increase.

In Arizona, of the 2.8 million expected to file, Brunson said about 2.2 million will do it electronically.

When it comes to filing online, the IRS also offers free assistance to those earning less than $57,000, which is 70 percent of all taxpayers.

Free File offers brand-name tax software to people who qualify. This option allows people to file returns electronically and use direct deposit, which is the fastest way to get refunds.

The Free File program has been made possible through some of the nation’s leading tax software companies partnering with the IRS to make their products available for free through IRS.gov. Each company sets its own eligibility criteria, generally based on income, state residency, age, military service or eligibility for EITC. 

There is also a software option that is available in Spanish for residents who earned less than $30,000 in 2012.

Some Free File software products are also available in select free tax preparation sites operated by Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). Taxpayers can use VITA or TCE computers to access Free File, prepare their own state and federal returns with a trained and certified volunteer on stand-by to help and e-file free of charge.

To find a  participating site, go to IRS.gov and search for VITA to find a self-preparation site locally.

More than 36 million taxpayers have used Free File since the program began in 2003.

Anyone with questions regarding the 2012 filing, call the Tucson office at 205-5008. The Tucson office is located at, 300 W. Congress, and is open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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