he Mission of the Sun City Community Assistance Network is to, “Connect people with resources to enhance their standard of living.”
In other words, Sun City CAN helps people save money on things like property taxes, income taxes, utilities, Medicare premiums, prescription drugs and other things.
Many benefits go unclaimed simply because people are unaware that the benefits exist. In an effort to shed light on some of the help that is available to low-income seniors, I will write a guest commentary each month about a different senior help program.
Below is a listing of benefits available for low-income seniors that some may not realize are available.
There are five state tax credits that are available to normal everyday Arizona residents who pay state income taxes.
These credits permit taxpayers to give their money to a worthy charity or a school instead of paying the money to the state of Arizona in the form of taxes.
Public Schools — You can make a contribution directly to a public school in the state of Arizona for the support of eligible activities and receive a dollar for dollar state income tax credit. Maximum credit allowed is $400 for married and $200 for single. Claim the credit on Form 322.
Qualifying Charitable Organizations — This is a dollar for dollar income tax credit for charities that have been approved for this credit by the state of Arizona. A list of more than 1,000 qualifying charities can be found on the Arizona Department of Revenue website, az.dor.gov. Maximum credit allowed is $800 for married and $400 for single. Use Form 321 to claim this credit.
Private School Tuition Organizations — This fund provides scholarship or grants to students who attend nongovernmental primary or secondary schools located in Arizona. Also included are preschools that offer services to students with disabilities. A list of qualifying charities can be found on the on the Arizona Department of Revenue website. The maximum individual credit is $593 for single taxpayers and $1,196 for taxpayers filing a joint return. Claim this credit on Form 323.
Military Family Relief Fund — This fund provides help to families of deployed service members or for hardships caused by post 9/11 deployments. Maximum dollar for dollar credit allowed is $400 for married and $200 for single. This fund has a cap of $1 million for refundable tax credits and donations will be returned once that cap is reached. As of Oct. 5, the fund had reached $850,000. Online donations for this year are suspended but mail-in checks are still being accepted. Claim the credit on Form 340.
Qualifying Foster Care Organizations — This is a dollar for dollar income tax credit for donations that provide basic needs to individuals in the foster care system. A list of qualifying charities can be found on the Arizona Department of Revenue website, az.dor.gov. Maximum credit allowed is $1,000 for married and $500 for single. Use Form 352 to claim this credit.
People who owe Arizona state income taxes can take advantage of not just one of the above credits but all of the above credits. For example, a married couple could donate to a public school, a private school, an approved charity, an approved foster care charity and to the Military Family Relief Fund at the maximum levels for a total donation of $3,796. They can then subtract $3,796 from their Arizona state tax liability. If they previously owed $4,000 in state income taxes, they would now only owe $204. More importantly, their donations will have helped non-profit organizations and school children.
You can contribute to all of the above (except the Military Family Relief) until April 15 of the following year. All tax credits are “non-refundable,” which means they can only be used to off-set taxes owed. For more information about these tax credits, consult the Arizona Department of Revenue website, az.dor.gov, and the Arizona Department of Veteran’s Services website, dvs.az.gov.
As a footnote, Sun City Community Assistance Network is qualified for the $800/$400 Qualifying Charitable Organization Tax Credit and we would appreciate your donation. Our address is 10195 W. Coggins Drive, Sun City, AZ 85351. Our code for Form 321 is 20402.
Editor’s Note: Hugh Duncan is Sun City Community Assistance Network board president.