There are two free or low-cost income-tax preparation services available to residents of New Mexico starting up this month.

The AARP organization is operating its yearly free tax help service at both Santa Fe Community College and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. The organization will be up and running by the end of the month, and I’ll report more details on the hours and what services they plan to offer next week.

Then there is a service that is starting this week by Peter Doniger, who used to operate the AARP program and spun off his own business.

Doniger and his preparers will open Friday at the Santa Fe Place mall across from H&M; enter by Skechers. The hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Since AARP’s tax program is meant to help individuals, Doniger was limited to what returns he could file as a volunteer for that organization. Now, he has more flexibility and will be able to handle small business returns, help with gross receipts tax filings as well as assisting with more complex individual returns.

But his preparers will charge to cover the increased cost of renting a space and providing Wi-Fi and computers. That charge will be on a sliding scale based on income, with a maximum of $75 for individuals earning more than $50,000. There are charges for those needing help with self-employment reporting, trusts, investment partnerships or itemizations.

Walk-ins are accepted, but appointments are preferred. To schedule an appointment, visit www.taxhelpsantafe.com or call 505-990-7431.

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The Fitch Ratings agency has assigned a very strong AA-plus rating to the upcoming sale of road improvement bonds by the city of Santa Fe.

The $9.9 million offering set for sale next month will be used for road improvements and rights-of-way acquisitions. In giving the city its second highest municipal rating, after AAA, Fitch points to the recent annexation that added 13,251 residents as well as an upswing in construction and retail activity.

The city’s bond rating reflects “ample revenue flexibility, demonstrated spending control” as well as “superior financial resilience,” wrote Fitch analysts in a Jan. 3 report.

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Ashley Leach, an economist at the Department of Workforce Solutions, looks at some interesting tidbits from the recent American Community Survey on New Mexico counties, which reflect surveys by the U.S. Census Bureau over the 2012-16 time frame.

• With race and ethnicity, for instance, almost 80 percent of Mora County residents identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino, while in McKinley County, it was only 13.7 percent.

• The youngest county in the state was Roosevelt in Eastern New Mexico, where the median age was 30 years, the oldest was Catron County in Western New Mexico, where 58 was the median age.

• Mora County had the most native New Mexicans with 84 percent born in the state, while Los Alamos has the smallest percentage of native-born, 33 percent.

• As far as mobility goes, Rio Arriba County residents were the least likely to have moved in the past year, with just 5.4 percent reporting a move within the state or from outside, while 22 percent of the population in Curry County reported moving in the past year.

• McKinley County had the largest population of men 15 years and older who have never been married (53 percent), while Lincoln County had the smallest (22 percent). Not surprisingly, McKinley also reports the largest percentage of never-married women (48 percent), while Sierra has the smallest (16 percent).

• One tidbit for Santa Fe County, important for those looking at economic development here, is that Santa Fe has the highest percentage of individuals in the state with self-employment income (17.5 percent), while the lowest in New Mexico is Otero County at 8 percent. The national average is 10.7 percent.

The biggest divide in the data is probably median income, with Los Alamos County, one of the wealthiest in the United States, showing the highest for all households with a median income of almost $106,000. The lowest household median in the state is Guadalupe County at just $26,692.

The monthly Labor Market Review is available on the Department of Workforce Solutions website under publications.

Contact Bruce Krasnow at brucek@sfnewmexican.com.

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