Free tax filing available to some

Krystal Klei, Reporter
POSTED: 04:07 PM MST Feb 14, 2013    UPDATED: 06:21 PM MST Feb 14, 2013 
EL PASO, Texas -

Tax season can mean confusion and pricey appointments.

But for some, it's about bargain hunting.

This year, different tax preparation businesses are offering free filings for some.

H&R Block is offering free filing for the 1040EZ form. That's the simplest form.

"There's a lot of people out there that are first-time filers that don't know what to do and there's people that don't have deductions, so we're trying to give our clients and potential clients a break here," H&R Block Office Manager Yvonne Mendoza said.

Normally, H&R charges $39.99 for a simple form filing. The special offer is only available until Friday evening when the doors close Mendoza said.

Liberty Tax and Jackson Hewitt are also offering free simple tax preparation through the season.

The simple form requires people to have no dependents, no deductions and no credits.

For families that don't fit the criteria but have a household income of up to $51,000, the VITA program is available.

VITA stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, and is a program initiated by the Internal Revenue Service.

In El Paso, the program is supported and developed by the Coalition for Family Economic Progress.

The VITA program can do itemizations, and assist with more-complex tax filings.

Gerald Fleharty, a site coordinator for the VITA Program at the Bowling Family YMCA, said the volunteers must be trained by the IRS before assisting visitors.

Fleharty said he's chosen to volunteer as a way to give back to his community. Last year alone, his location processed more than 1,200 tax returns.

"Those are the type of people we like to help, the ones who are low-income, who cannot afford to get their taxes paid," he added. "Personally, I think it provides a deep sense of satisfaction to help people who need the help."

Charles Grantz, a visitor at a VITA location, said he and his daughter were visiting to complete her taxes for the first time. He has been visiting the same location for years, he added.

"Every dollar counts," Grantz said. "So I don't have to pay someone else $200 or $150 somewhere else to get a $300 check back."

"It's something I can pay my bills with," Grantz added.

For additional information on the VITA Program, or a complete list of the locations offering VITA, visit: http://www.freetaxeselpaso.org/freetaxsites.html.

In addition, if you've filed your taxes, the IRS has pleaded for people to wait to check the status of their return. The IRS website has been overwhelmed with web hits, according to the Associate Press.