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Free tax assistance available at multiple locations in Sarasota county

By Dianne Shipley

February 12, 2015

SARASOTA COUNTY - Free tax aid is available at locations throughout Sarasota County for quick filing of federal individual income tax returns at AARP tax aid sites and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites. The VITA sites are operated by the United Way Suncoast.

Residents who earned $60,000 or less last year can use the VITA tax aid sites in Sarasota County. The United Way Suncoast also is offering free online tax preparation for people who want to file their own taxes. The website is The income limit for online tax preparation support is $60,000. 

There are no income limits or age limits at the AARP sites. This service is not for business returns or complex tax issues. The United Way Suncoast will operate five VITA sites in Sarasota County. The goal is to help ensure that residents who are eligible for the various tax credits receive their earned share. The other 11 tax aid sites will be operated by the AARP foundation. There are no appointments at the AARP or VITA sites. 

Both the AARP and VITA free tax sites allow residents to electronically file their tax returns so they can receive refunds - if eligible - sooner. Generally, a refund can be posted to a person's bank account within seven to 10 days after the visit to one of the AARP or VITA sites. Trained IRS-certified volunteers will be at each location to provide free personal income tax assistance to EITC-eligible residents and older adults (some guidelines apply). Services include responding to questions; assisting eligible persons, including older adults, in filing their taxes; and support in reporting and receiving the benefit of all available and eligible credits, including the EITC and Child Tax Credit. 

Many people will qualify for the EITC for the first time because their income declined, their marital status changed, or they added children to their families. Families with three or more children also get an extra boost with a larger EITC this year. The EITC can make life a little easier for workers struggling to make ends meet in today's tight economy - up to $6,143 in earned income tax credits with three or more qualifying children. Yet, the Internal Revenue Service estimates one in five eligible taxpayers could miss out on this valuable tax credit.

Persons who earned $52,000 or less from wages or self-employment in 2014 are encouraged to see if they qualify. Eligible taxpayers can get their EITC only if they file federal income tax returns - even if they are not otherwise required to file - and specifically claim the credit.

Taxpayers should bring the following to help determine their EITC eligibility and to help prepare their tax returns: 

  • photo identification
  • valid Social Security cards for the taxpayer, spouse and dependents
  • birth dates for primary, secondary and dependents on the tax return
  • current year's tax package, if received wage and earning statement(s) Forms W-2, W-2G or 1099-R from all employers 1095-A if you received credit from the marketplace.
  • interest and dividend statements from banks (Form 1099)
  • Form 1098, mortgage interest/property tax information, if applicable
  • a copy of last year's federal and state returns, if available bank routing numbers and account numbers for direct deposit other relevant information about income and expenses
  • total paid for day care
  • day care provider's taxpayer identifying number.

The Sarasota County Commission issued a proclamation declaring Jan. 30 to be Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day. Since these tax credits also are generally spent locally, this helps to improve the county's economy. In addition, this valuable service helps older residents and middle-income and lower-income residents who either need assistance in filing their taxes or who need to consult on a tax issue.

For more information, including a link to online EITC filing, visit the Sarasota County government website at If you do not have computer access, call United Way 2-1-1 of Manasota Inc. by dialing 211 for more information. Those with mobile or pay phones should call 941-308-4357.

A list of locations follows.

There are no appointments except where noted, and walk-ins are welcome at all other locations. As of Feb. 1, the local AARP and VITA tax aid e-file sites and their hours are as follows:


Mondays, 3 - 7 p.m.
Robert L. Taylor Community Complex (VITA site)
1845 34th St.

Mondays, 3 - 7 p.m.; Thursdays, 1 - 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Closed Monday, Feb. 16, for Presidents Day
Gulf Gate Library (AARP Site)
7112 Curtiss Ave.

Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Boys and Girls Club (VITA site)
3100 Fruitville Road

Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Closed Monday, Feb. 16, for Presidents Day
Fruitville Library (AARP Site)
100 Coburn Road

Tuesdays, 2 - 6 p.m.
United Way Suncoast Sarasota Area Office (VITA site)
1800 2nd St. (Osprey Street Entrance)

Mondays-Thursdays, 2 - 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Closed Monday, Feb. 16, for Presidents Day
Selby Library (AARP Site)
1331 First St.  

Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. *Last return will be started at 1 p.m. (AARP Site)
Senior Friendship Center
1888 Brother Geenen Way


Wednesdays, 4 - 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
South County Family YMCA (VITA site), Venice Branch boardroom
701 Center Road

Fridays, 1- 4:30 p.m. (AARP Site)
Bay Indies Park
950 Ridgewood Ave.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. (AARP Site) 
Closed Monday, Feb. 16, for Presidents Day
Jacaranda Library
4143 Woodmere Blvd.

Tuesdays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (AARP Site)
Venice Community Center
326 S. Nokomis Ave.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 1 - 4:30 p.m. (AARP Site)
Woodmere Park
3951 Woodmere Park Blvd.


Thursdays, 5-8:30 p.m.;
Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
North Port Family Service Center, Social Services (VITA site)
6919 Outreach Way

Mondays, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. (AARP Site)
Holiday Park Recreation Center (Recreation Hall)
5401 Holiday Park Blvd.

Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Fridays, 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. (AARP Site)
North Port Senior Center
4940 Pan American Blvd.

Thursdays, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. (AARP Site)
San Pedro Activity Center
14380 Tamiami Trail


Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m..; Fridays, 10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.;
Saturdays, Noon-5 p.m. (By appointment only, to be scheduled at front desk)(AARP Site)

Closed Monday, Feb. 16, for Presidents Day
Elsie Quirk Library
100 West Dearborn St.


Sarasota County prohibits discrimination in all services, programs or activities.
View the complete policy at



In September 2011, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released information about the Registered Tax Return Preparer competencies for those who prepare tax returns for individuals and families. For more information, visit
The IRS is not providing the usual level of tax forms and instructions to libraries this year because of significant federal budget cuts. Tax forms can be delivered by mail via or by calling 800-829-3676. Tax forms can also be downloaded from the IRS website,


Sarasota County Health and Human Services Media Contact:
Dianne Shipley, 941-861-2852; cell 941-302-1058

AARP/Tax Aide Program Contacts:
Mike Roberts, North County AARP/Tax Aide; 941-544-1023
Duane Hetzel, South County AARP/Tax Aide; 941-423-5477

United Way VITA Program Contacts:
Holly Bullard, United Way Suncoast, Inc. VITA Program Manager; 941-328-6978