Benefits in Action: Tax Program

By Eric Gonzales ~

Tax season is upon us. And what a season it is. Between refunds and stimulus checks it seems like there is a lot that can go wrong when doing your taxes. Luckily, there are a lot of free tax assistance options available to seniors and low-income individuals. This article describes some of the general parameters of one of those programs, and what to do to take advantage of this potential opportunity. So, if you are interested in learning more, pay close attention to this article.

Various tax assistance programs are available to Coloradans. One good example is Tax Help Colorado. Tax Help Colorado is a group of community partners and volunteers who provide free tax assistance to Coloradans who meet certain income and circumstance requirements. You can determine whether your household circumstances fall within the parameters of the Tax Help Colorado program by using their website (www.taxhelpco.org). Once you are on their website, scroll down and click on “Who Qualifies”, and answering a few simple questions about your tax return and your household and you will know if you qualify for their assistance.

If you qualify for the Tax Help Colorado program, you can find a tax assistance site near you by using their website to search for sites by zip code. However, please be advised that the type of assistance that you will receive varies based on the site. Some sites are primarily designed for individuals to drop off documents while others offer the opportunity to complete your application in person with a tax preparer. You should choose a site carefully based on your tax preparation preferences.

Tax Help Colorado is a trusted community resource. Since 2007, their preparers have filed over 82,000 tax returns. Their preparers are also part of the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, meaning that they are specially trained and take yearly exams to ensure their ability to help you complete an accurate tax return. Tax Help Colorado professionals are also available year-round to answer your questions about income tax related issues.

Does this information make you interested in using the Tax Help Colorado Program? If so, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, identify the documents you will need to bring with you when seeking tax assistance and making sure you bring them to your tax assistance site. Common documents you will need include copies of your ID, social security card, W2s and 1099s. However, this list is not exhaustive, and you should check with your preferred tax assistance site for a full list of documents you will need. 

Second, if you are married and filing jointly, make sure that both you and your spouse come to the tax site, as both of you will need to sign important documents, including the actual tax return. Third, please pay attention to the hours of operation of the various tax sites. Some have limited hours of operation that are different than their normal hours of operation. Fourth, be prepared to wait in your car or outside. Due to social distancing guidelines, sites are unable to accommodate indoor lines.

Finally, please do not wait until the last minute to start your taxes. Many Tax Help Colorado sites are closed due to COVID-19, and those that are open are likely to experience backlogs of appointments as the April 15, 2021 tax filing deadline draws near. Ideally, you will want to visit a Tax Help Colorado site before the end of March to ensure that they have enough time and staff to process your tax return before April 15. 

Thank you for reading, and good luck this tax season. For more information, visit www.taxhelpco.org, or www.coloradovita.org. These websites provide an exhaustive list of the documents you will need, the requirements of the various tax sites, and frequently asked questions. You can also call Benefits in Action at 720-221-8354 or email us at info@benefitsinaction.org. We are happy to help you with your tax-related questions.

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