VITA, AARP will offer free tax help

Published: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 3:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 3:03 p.m.

Filing your 2011 income tax return doesn't have to cost you if you get free tax preparation assistance through VITA or the AARP Tax-Aide Assistance program.

VITA, or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, is an IRS-sponsored program that works with United Way and other community partners, while AARP Tax-Aide Assistance is sponsored by the AARP Foundation in partnership with IRS to assist families during the tax season, which this year runs from Jan. 17-April 17.

Although the tax filing deadline is April 15 of each year, April 15 is a Sunday and April 16 falls on Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia.

David Sheppard, coordinator of the VITA program, said free tax preparation and electronic filing will be available for families or individuals whose income for 2011 was around $50,000. "Someone with income that is a little more than $50,000, we're not going to turn away," said Sheppard, adding that he best way to schedule an appointment is to call 2-1-1, but you also can 352-331-2800.

"We don't have income requirements," said Julie Davidson, cocordinator of AARP Tax-Aide Assistance in Alachua County, adding that free tax preparation will be offered to people of all ages and income. Davidson said tax preparation and electronic filing are done by appointment only. You can make an appointment via email at or in person at one of the AARP tax preparation sites.

Below are VITA tax preparation sites in the Gainesville area:

* United Way of North Central Florida, 6031 NW 1st Place: 6-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 17-April 17.

The Library Partnership and Neighborhood Resource Center, 1130 NE 16th Ave.: 4-7 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturdays from Jan. 19-April 14.

* Alachua County Housing Authority, 703 NE 1st St.: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from Jan. 23-April 13.

* Santa Fe College downtown campus, 401 NW 6th St.: 6-9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays from Jan. 25-April 11.

* FloridaWorks, 4800 SW 13th St.: 1-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 31-April 12.

* University of Florida Levin College of Law, SW 2nd Avenue and 25th Street: 5-9 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 31-April 12.

* Shands at UF Atrium on Archer Road: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Feb. 17 and March 23.

* School Board of Alachua County Bus Depot, 1800 SE Hawthorne Road: Dates and times to be announced.

* City College, 7001 NW 4th Blvd.: 1-4 p.m. Wednesdays from Feb. 1-April 11.

* Santa Fe College main campus, 3000 NW 83rd St.: Dates and times to be announced.

Below are AARP Tax-Aide Assistance sites. Tax help will be available from Feb. 1-April 16 in the Gainesville area:

* Alachua County Library Headquarters, 401 E. University Ave.: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays by appointment or walk-ins from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 11 and April 7.

* Tower Road Branch Library, 3020 SW 75th St.: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday by appointment only.

* Millhopper Branch Library, 3145 NW 43rd St.: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday and Thursday by appointment only; walk-ins from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 17 and April 14.

* Alachua County Senior Recreation Center, 5701 NW 34th St: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday by appointment only; walk-ins from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 10.

Those getting their taxes done will need to bring the following documents:

* Valid picture ID, such as a driver's license, for all taxpayers; Social Security cards for everyone in the household, and birth dates for everyone in your household and other dependents.

* A copy of your 2010 tax return, if you have it.

* Income documentation from your employer, such as a W-2 form.

* Other documentation that may apply, including childcare expenses, mortgage company statements, adoption expenses, alimony paid or received, documentation of the purchase of a home, notices from the IRS you may have received, property tax bills, college tuition and student loan interest statements, lottery and gambling winnings, prizes and awards and scholarships and fellowships.

Sheppard of VITA said for direct deposit to your bank account, bring a canceled blank check, which makes it possible for you to get your refund deposited to your bank account within 6-10 days after filing electronically.

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