Some free tax-filing help available

James Fenton
Karla Gabilondo, left, helps Lena Nakai with her taxes on Saturday at the Information Technology Center at San Juan College.

FARMINGTON – People who are looking for free help preparing and filing their taxes before the April 18 deadline have some options around San Juan County.

But officials advise them to make plans to do so sooner rather than later.

Ernest Asmus, an AARP Tax-Aide program district coordinator, said low-income seniors can find help at four area senior centers in Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield and Newcomb. This year, the program was moved from Shiprock's senior center 36 miles south to the Newcomb Senior Citizens Center after Shiprock's senior center suspended the program.

But there are only 26 volunteers between the four centers.

Sponsored by the AARP Foundation and the IRS, the program helps seniors 50 and older who cannot afford to pay for tax preparation and filing help.

The Bonnie Dallas Annex and Activity Center, 208 N. Wall Ave. in Farmington, offers tax help from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays each week. It is recommended that those needing help make an appointment over the phone at 505-566-2256.

The Aztec Senior-Community Center, 101 S. Park Ave., offers help from 8:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information, call 505-334-2881.

The Bloomfield Senior Center, 124 W. Ash Ave., is offering free help filing taxes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays. Call 505-632-8351 for more information. 
The Newcomb Senior Citizens Center, located next to the Newcomb Chapter House just off U.S. Highway 491, has volunteers on hand from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursdays. Call 505-696-5485.

Last year, the Bonnie Dallas center processed 650 returns, and a total of around 1,500 filers were helped across the county last year, Asmus said.

For those who are savvy Internet users, the United Way is sponsoring online help at unitedway.org/myfreetaxes, The online service is free for anyone who earned $62,000 or less last year, according to San Juan United Way Executive Director Linda Mickey.

“We recognize that affordable tax preparation services are out of reach for many in our community,” Mickey said in a statement. “In addition to the savings derived from using this service, taxpayers can reduce the amount of income tax they pay by claiming valuable credits. We know that tax refunds help many in our community achieve greater financial stability, and we want to help them keep more of what they earn.”

The service also includes a helpline, 1-855-MY-TX-HELP, which operates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays through April 18. For more information, call the San Juan United Way, 903 W. Apache St., at 505-326-1195.

A volunteer calculates a visitor's taxes on Saturday at the Information Technology Center at San Juan College.

Another program called Tax Help New Mexico is offered at San Juan College, and spokeswoman Rhonda Schaefer said the college's annual free tax-filing program has been very busy. Schaefer recommended residents might look around to find tax help elsewhere this year.

The free service is located at the college, 4601 College Blvd., in the Information Technology Center (also known as the "Coppertop" building), Room 7106, from 3 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. The service ends March 19 and is offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

"We will try to serve everyone we can, but we are limited in the number of people we can serve due to the numbers we've seen," Schaefer said.

Rebecca Ingersoll, left, and Viridiana Saltijeral, center, help Donna Keeswood with her taxes on Saturday at the Information Technology Center at San Juan College.

Local IRS spokesman Bill Brunson said current- or prior-year year tax forms and instructions are available for download online at irs.gov.

To have forms sent by mail, call toll-free at 800-829-3676. Forms will be delivered within 10 business days.

James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.