Editor’s note:The State of Arizona has announced it has moved the deadline for filing and paying state individual income taxes from April 15 to May 17, 2021.

While the federal government is giving taxpayers an extra month to file their 2020 returns, the state’s deadline remains the same — and with it, the timeframe for directing any portion of what they owe to their favorite charitable cause.

That means Arizonans still have only until April 15 to direct a portion – or all – of their entire state tax bill to any of a number of organizations, including those helping families pay Catholic school tuition, provide medical and dental care, clothing or rent for the needy, house veterans, or deliver meals to isolated seniors, to name a few.

Nancy Padberg, president and chief executive officer for Catholic Education Arizona. (Courtesy of Nancy Padberg/CEA)

“The federal deadline doesn’t apply to (Arizona) tax credits. April 15 is the deadline. We cannot extend it,” pointed out Nancy Padberg, president and CEO of Catholic Education Arizona, which provides scholarships to underserved families.

In fact, the deadline for designation contributions under the Arizona Tax Credit program cannot be changed. Even last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic moved both the federal and state filing dates back to July 15, the contribution time frame remained the same

“State law does not authorize the Director or ADOR (Arizona Department of Revenue) to alter the scope of these statutorily-provided credits,” the department states on its website.

“You still have to write a check and submit it by April 15,” noted Paul Mulligan, President and CEO of Catholic Charities Community Services.

CEA and Catholic Charities are just two of many that use tax credit dollars to serve those in need with a wide range of services.

Others Catholic charitable organizations that benefit from the tax credit include the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Foundation for Senior Living.

Changing lives one scholarship at a time

The number one school-tuition organization based on dollars raised and scholarships awarded, Catholic Education Arizona has raised over $268 million in 23 years of participating in the tax credit program, awarding 138,000 scholarships in the process for 37 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Phoenix and Boys Hope Girls Hope Arizona. Families apply through a third-party organization. Awards are based on financial need. Contributors cannot designate awards to a specific student but can ask they be directed to a school.

“The federal deadline doesn’t apply to (Arizona) tax credits. April 15 is the deadline. We cannot extend it.”

Padberg said about half the contributions come from individuals, the other half from corporations. Corporations range from major companies, such as APS, to smaller businesses. The deadline for corporate donations is June 30, coinciding with the annual corporate-tax filing deadline. There has been no change in that time frame.

Any taxpayer can participate in the tax credit program, and organizations offer various ways to contribute, usually by a mailed check, online or by phone. A receipt is generated, showing how much the participant paid, and that participant then files a copy of that receipt along with their taxes to show proof of participation and to avoid being billed for their tax liability through the state.

This year, single filers can direct up to $1,183 and married filers up to $2,365 to school-tuition organizations. CEA has a list of frequently asked questions relative to the program at https://catholiceducationarizona.org/faq/

Padberg said contributing to an underserved student is a worthy investment.

“Catholic schools have a 99 percent graduation rate, and 97 percent of all students attend college or sign up for military service,” she said. Catholic school students also perform thousands of hours of community service, she added.

Giving hope with tax credits

Mulligan said Catholic Charities uses redirected monies to recruit, train and license foster families.

“There is a huge need in Arizona. Over 4,000 kids are in foster care that need this kind of care,” he said.

But Catholic Charities contributors can direct their funds to other agency programs, such as veterans housing or refugee resettlement. “People can tell us where they want us to spend their money,” Mulligan said.

“This is a generous community. Our hope is we can get the word out. And that people can support these needs at a time it is needed more than ever.”

Foundation for Senior Living, one of the newer agencies to take part in the tax credit program, focuses on helping seniors. Most of their assistance goes toward enabling needy seniors to continue to live independently, said FSL President and CEO Tom Egan.

“We do a lot of different things. About 85 percent of the seniors we help are low-income and very dependent on charitable contributions. COVID has disproportionately affected these individuals. We have seen a 47 percent increase in demand for home-delivered meals. Sometimes, the only person an isolated senior sees on a daily basis is our delivery person. (So), it also is human interaction — checking to see whether someone needs additional help,” he said.

Another critical service offered by FSL is adult day service, a medical program that provides care, including medical care, for seniors whose caregivers work during the day or simply need a break.

“Those have been dramatically impacted. We are busing people from West and East Valley (locations) to our Phoenix location because we had to close the two sites due to COVID. We had one annual fundraiser that we have now had to cancel two years in a row,” Egan explained.

Like other agencies, Egan recommends donating online since that option generates an electronic receipt.

St. Vincent de Paul Associate Executive Director Shannon Clancy remained confident giving will not be adversely affected by the change in the federal filing deadline.

“This is a generous community. That deadline is the same as it has always been. For many of our taxpayers who have come through the last year — those who have not had the struggle — this is a tremendous gift the state has given. Our hope is we can get the word out. And that people can support these needs at a time it is needed more than ever.”