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Free tax help now available for Utahns

Published February 1, 2013 1:01 am

Tax time • Qualified families can receive assistance.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Need help preparing your taxes, but can't afford to hire an expert?

The IRS has you covered, offering free tax help for those who qualify.

If your household earns less than $51,000 annually, you're eligible for tax prep assistance at no charge through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

Melissa Jensen with the Community Action Partnership of Utah, which coordinates VITA in the state, says 16,563 Utah households received free tax help through VITA last year.

"The average income we see is about $19,000 a year, so these tax refunds make a tremendous difference for these families," Jensen said.

VITA volunteers are available at 112 sites across the state, with several offering help in both English and Spanish. Jensen says VITA volunteers come from all walks of life, from working professionals to retirees to students, including a group from Rowland Hall High School.

Stephen Parks of Holladay began volunteering four years ago after retiring as the chief financial officer at Questar Corp.

"Before volunteering, I had done a lot of corporate taxes, but hadn't done any personal taxes other than my own," he said, "One of the things I wanted to do when I retired is give back to the community and this has been a good way to do that."

Last year, there were 727 volunteers and each had to complete 12 hours of training plus an online test before they were pressed into service.

"It's a great experience for them and the reason people give back is they see the need," Jensen said. "It's partnerships like these that really enrich the program."

To find a location near you or to schedule an appointment, call 2-1-1 or consult the Utah Tax Help website. You'll need to bring photo IDs, Social Security cards or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, W-2 forms, a voided check for direct deposit and a copy of last year's tax return.

jnpearce@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jnpearce —

To qualify for VITA tax help

Your household earns less than $51,000

You have photo IDs along with Social Security cards or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers.

To find a VITA location near you

Call 2-1-1

Visit http://www.utahtaxhelp.org