As another year closes in Southern Arizona, many are looking forward to celebrating the holiday season (and the end of another fiscal year) with friends and family, though there are ways to express feelings of good spirit well beyond the holiday lights and exchange of gifts—and in many cases, you can do it without affecting the bottom line.

Charitable nonprofit organizations work throughout the community year-round to provide support for residents who are struggling through hard times. But with demand high, these groups need help to pay for services, supplies and staff to do their good deeds.

In the state of Arizona, residents can take advantage of a chartable tax credit which will incur no net cost on their personal budgets—and provide them with a deduction on their federal taxes. 

The qualifying nonprofits include organizations which provide assistance to Arizonans who participate in the state’s Temporary Assistance of Needy Families program, are low-income residents or have children suffering from a chronic illness or physical disability. A qualifying organization may also be a qualifying foster care charitable organization that meets additional criteria in serving qualified individuals.

Individually filing taxpayers can contribute $400, while married couples filing jointly may contribute up to $800 to a qualifying organization. Any money contributed is refunded to the filer on the following year’s state taxes.

According to Ronald McDonald House Charities Southern Arizona President and CEO Kate Maguire Jensen, supporting a charitable organization has never been easier thanks to the state tax credit. Jensen estimated that last year, the organization received approximately $50,000 thanks to tax credit contributions.

“We have a pretty loyal donor base, and are really grateful that there are some donors who’ve given us large gifts year after year,” she said. “But we also value small gifts. We have donors that make a $10 or $15 contribution …it’s very, very big of them, and we really appreciate it.” 

The first Ronald McDonald House was built in 1974 in an effort to help families dedicate themselves to their children in times of need. 

The organization has maintained a presence in Southern Arizona since 1981, and is now housed out of a 24,000-square-foot House that serves about 600 families every year. According to Jensen, those families may stay for a few nights, while others may choose to stay for a few months. Some of the residents may have a child who is dealing with cancer treatment, while others may be looking for support after the birth of a premature baby. 

The annual budget for the house is roughly $1.3 million, funding which Jensen said helps alleviate undue stress caused by life’s greatest challenges. 

“When families have a really sick kid, there is just a kind of stress, and part of that is financial stress,” Jensen said. “You have additional medical costs, sometimes a family member or a mom or dad have to quit a job in order to provide care for the child. And so, the main focus of the Ronald McDonald House is to alleviate some of that stress… The house is here to serve those families, and to provide housing and support at no cost to the family.”

While the Ronald McDonald House aims to help families in-need, La Frontera provides behavioral health services to people of all ages, both individuals and families. 

The organization has multiple locations throughout Arizona (Pima, Maricopa and Pinal counties), but is headquartered in South Tucson. 

The company offers services not only for counseling, but substance abuse, crisis intervention and trauma healing. Many of these programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. La Frontera also maintains suicide prevention centers, crisis hotlines and many other opportunities to help the community. 

La Frontera keeps its clients’ information confidential and is committed to “culturally competent care,” which means that it focuses on respecting a client’s racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds, as well as their sexuality, gender, and whenever possible, offer services in their client’s native language. 

The company accepts individuals enrolled in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, and even other insurance plans.

In addition to mental health and family counseling, La Frontera also hosts charitable events for the community: Just recently La Frontera prepared Thanksgiving boxes filled with turkey and other festive foods for their clients. The company hosts auctions of which the proceeds go to charity, and support the “Kids with HeART” art sale, which supports local family services. 

A donation would be greatly appreciated, as just earlier this year La Frontera laid off multiple members of its staff as a result of funding cuts from Cenpatico Integrated Care.

Old Pueblo Community Services strives to help men and women who are just getting out of prison to keep them from returning, veterans who are struggling with mental illness, substance abuse and others who are struggling with homelessness. The nonprofit helps by finding homes and leads on employment.

“Our goal is to end homelessness in Tucson,” said Nancy Jones, the nonprofit’s development director. “That’s a lofty goal. We do that by opening door to housing and recovery, and through that process, people are able to find their way home.”

In addition to charitable contributions, Old Pueblo Community Services also accepts non-perishable food, toys and new or gently used household items, furniture and clothing. Contact them at 546-0122 or drop off items at 4501 E. 5th Street. More info at helptucson.org. 

Tax credits aren’t limited to Qualified Charitable Organizations, which means taxpayers, both individual and corporate, can find other ways to give back to the community while lowering the tax burden. Other available tax credits include The Arizona Military Family Relief Fund Credit; Foster Care Charitable Organization; Corporate Tuition Tax Credit; Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit; Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit; Renewable Energy for Self-Consumption; University Redearch and Development Tax Credit; Public and Private School Tax Credits and the Qualified Small Business Capital Investment Program.

For more information on tax credits, visit the State of Arizona Department of Revenue website at www.azdor.gov/TaxCredits.

Contributions to this story were made by Inside Tucson Business staff members Logan Burtch-Buus, Christopher Boan, Jeff Gardner and Jim Nintzel.

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