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Friday, June 14, 2024

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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

New IRS tool makes filing taxes easier for some in AZ

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Friday, April 12, 2024   

Arizonans have until Monday to file their individual income-tax returns, and for some, the Internal Revenue Service wants to make the chore a little less of a headache.

Arizona is among 12 states where people can take advantage of a free pilot program called IRS Direct File, which allows eligible individuals to electronically file their federal income-tax returns.

The program is estimated to eventually save Americans $11 billion annually, according to the nonprofit Economic Security Project.

Adam Ruben, the group's vice president for campaigns and political strategy, said Arizonans can go online to Directfile.IRS.gov.

"It's an interview-based questionnaire. So it's something that people can use on their phones on their computers available in English and Spanish that asks people questions and pretty much plain language," he said, "and you fill in the answers, and it fills in the tax form for you."

The pilot program will only accept wages reported on Form W-2, Social Security retirement income, unemployment earnings and interest of $1,500 or less. Once completed, the Direct File tool then redirects users to the FileYourStateTaxes website to file Arizona state taxes.

According to the Arizona Department of Revenue, about 95% of individual tax returns have been e-filed so far this year.

Roberto Del Real, director of community services for Chicanos Por La Causa, a group that works with underserved and rural communities throughout the Grand Canyon State, said it's been a game-changer as they've been helping people use the simplified Direct File tool to complete their taxes, a process that can otherwise be expensive.

"It saves $100 you paid to get your taxes filed," he said. "The fact that they're going to save that means they're going to have an extra $100 - to eat, for fuel, for electricity. So, I think it is a great thing."

Companies such as TurboTax and H&R Block had resisted the idea for years, but the Biden administration insisted and was able to use funds from the Inflation Reduction Act to get the Direct File program up and running.


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