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April is tax season. You may not think that when you pay your annual Arizona state taxes that you are sending your money to Phoenix to basically be re-distributed to Phoenix, but in reality that is pretty much what we do. However, thanks to one of the most broad, diverse, and deep tax credit programs in the United States, we Tucsonans can significantly re-direct a sizeable portion of our Arizona state tax obligations to specific worthy organizations and activities in our area.

First, let’s do the math on Arizona state tax re-distribution and how it doesn’t work for the Tucson metro area. In Arizona, there are 30 legislative districts. Twenty of them are in the Maricopa County area. I was not a math major, but I can do arithmetic, and that basically means that two-thirds (a super majority) of our state legislators represent Maricopa County. Hence, why many people refer to where we live as “the State of Maricopa.”

Second, because so much of Pima County is “unincorporated” into any city or town, we lose out on state revenue sharing that automatically is apportioned to incorporated cities and towns. In fact, Pima County has the largest “unincorporated” population of any county in Arizona. It is estimated that this costs our region approximately $86 million each year in state shared revenue.

Here’s where the Arizona State Tax Credit program can help some to balance the scales. For 2021 or 2022 tax obligations to the State of Arizona, married couples “filing jointly” can direct up to $5,035 of what they owe the state dollar-for-dollar to various tax credit categories. All others filing state income taxes who are not “married filing jointly” can direct up to $2,519 of the amount of taxes they owe the state to a worthy local charity, nonprofit, private and public school.

The state has various categories for the tax credits, including public schools, private schools, school tuition organizations, charitable organizations, foster care organizations, and a special AZ Military Relief Fund. Each category has limits on the amount you can allocate of your tax obligation, and you can max out your tax credit contributions by utilizing all of the categories.

Personally, one year I donated to support the swim team at Tucson High (and another year the theater program). I also made a donation to a scholarship organization to subsidize private school tuition for the child of a neighbor, plus I gave money to support the school. I sent money to a local mentoring organization for teenage boys, and Aviva Children’s Services for foster care. It is really easy to find somewhere locally to direct your tax dollars. You can go to aztaxcreditfunds.com, a site that makes it easy to donate by category, and you can get more specific information on limits, etc. at azdor.gov/tax-credits, or phone 1-800-352-4090.

In short, there are many options to avoid sending your state tax dollars to our state legislators to primarily re-distribute that money to Maricopa County. As a single guy maxing out all the categories available, I can re-direct $2,519 of what I owe the state to specific organizations and activities in the Tucson area. If 40,000 of us in the Tucson area max out at $2,519 we would redirect more than $100 million of state tax revenues to worthy local uses … pretty cool!