Community

AARP seeks tax aide volunteers

The AARP Tax-Aide Program seeks volunteer tax counselors to provide free personal income tax assistance and counseling to Whidbey Island’s low and middle income taxpayers, with special attention to those age 60 and older.

Volunteers are trained during December and January. Computer skills are required, since most tax returns are filed electronically.

Tax aides are important because older and low-income taxpayers may overpay their taxes or have to rely on expensive and, for many, unaffordable professional tax preparation services, according to an AARP press release.

An IRS Taxpayer Usage Study reported that 90 percent of taxpayers have help doing their taxes: 63 percent pay a commercial tax preparer and 27 percent  use taxpayer software programs, according to a press release.

AARP Tax-Aide is the nation’s largest free, volunteer-run tax assistance and preparation service. Last year during the Feb. 1 to April 15 filing season, 900 trained AARP Tax-Aide volunteers prepared tax returns for more than 50,000 people at sites across Washington. The returns from Washington resulted in a net refund of more than $50 million for Washington taxpayers, plus nearly $12 million in Earned Income Tax Credit, and two-thirds of a million in Child Tax Credit, according to a press release.

At Whidbey Island’s three Tax-Aide sites, 750 returns were prepared. Net refunds were almost $378,000, of which over $60,000 was Earned Income Tax Credit and over $38,000 was Child Tax Credit.

Volunteers need not be an AARP member or a retiree to receive tax preparation assistance. Counselors are expected to work a minimum of four hours a week; many work longer if able.

AARP also seeks technical people who have a computer hardware or software background. They would not be required to pass the IRS tax certification exam.

AARP also needs client facilitators to greet customers and perform limited initial screenings but who don’t prepare tax returns. If interested, complete an online registration form at www.aarp.org/taxaide, or get information by calling AARP toll free at 888-687-2277.

For information about the Whidbey Island program, contact John Howard, local coordinator, at 678-1117 or 678-7779.

 

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