The IRS recently extended the federal income tax filing deadline to May 17, to accommodate more taxpayers. However, local Cochise County volunteer tax preparation services are leaning towards not extending their services past the traditional April 15 date due to staffing concerns, says one Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site coordinator. The coordinator, who wished to be identified only as Toni, manages appointments out of Mescal Fire Department and Benson Community Center.

Confusion about the Recovery Rebate Credit, stimulus payments and more have left many to seek the services of VITA or AARP sites. Although these locations generally serve low income or elderly populations, Toni says all are welcome. The only exception is that VITA cannot handle very special tax circumstances like depreciation of rentals.

While the VITA site in Mescal generally serves 50-60 taxpayers annually from Benson, Huachuca City, Willcox and even as far as Thatcher, Toni says this year's number of taxpayers served has already exceeded normal years. On the other hand, the number of volunteer tax preparers is down more than 50% from last year due to COVID.

Most other VITA or AARP tax preparation sites in Cochise County, including several in Sierra Vista and Bisbee, are also leaning towards not extending their services past April 15, said Toni.

Make an appointment with a local VITA or AARP tax preparation site to receive free help filing your taxes this year: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/find-a-location-for-free-tax-prep