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NM, federal groups offer free tax assistance

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The Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting federal tax returns today.

A few programs are available to provide free tax preparation assistance to eligible filers, although COVID-19 restrictions are limiting in-person services this year.

One option is the Tax Help New Mexico program, but all available drive-thru appointments at the Albuquerque site have been booked already until April 15.

April 15 is the deadline for federal returns. People filing their New Mexico tax returns electronically have until April 30.

People can check the Tax Help New Mexico website periodically to see if appointments become available. That website is www.taxhelpnm.org.

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The program is a partnership with several different organizations, including United Way of Central New Mexico, Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, the Internal Revenue Service and the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department. Several corporate sponsors also have provided funding.

It is open to people whose household incomes are $57,000 or less or who are 65 or older. Information is also available on the United Way of Central New Mexico website, www.uwcnm.org.

Several United Way groups also participate in a national online program expected to be operational some time this month. People can upload documents using computers and smartphones and await a call from a volunteer to complete their tax filings. The online site is www.getyourrefund.org. A phone app also is expected to be available.

The IRS and the American Association for Retired People (AARP) Foundation also offer tax assistance to eligible filers. Typically those are low income households, people over 65, people with disabilities or people who do not speak or read English as their primary language.

Information on IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs is available at https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/ or 800-906-9887. According to the website, a tax clinic is open this year in Jal, New Mexico.

Information about Tax-Aide, the AARP Foundation program, is available at https://taxaide.aarpfoundation.org or 888-227-7669. The website indicates that online assistance is available, as well as some in-person help at a few sites in Bernalillo, Curry, Sandoval and Santa Fe counties.

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