Tax season is coming into full swing shortly, and this will be my third tax season volunteering with AARP’s TaxAide program. For me, it’s an opportunity to do some good and keep abreast of how all the different tax tweaks congress makes each year find their way into the IRS forms and filing requirements we actually deal with back here on Earth. For you – or for an elderly friend or loved one – it’s can be an opportunity to get your taxes done for free with friendly, convenient service. For the benefit of those who might be interested, I’ve reposted this FAQ article with a summary of the services we provide.
What It Is
TaxAide is a joint venture between the IRS and AARP Foundation that provides volunteer tax preparers with advanced tax training arms them with professional tax preparer software, and sends them out to libraries, community centers, and senior centers across the nation to prepare taxes for people of modest means, free of charge. This year, roughly 35,000 volunteers at some 6,500 locations nation wide will file over two and a half million tax returns. Most volunteers are already experience preparers, and many are retired businesspeople, accountants, and the like.
Who It’s For
While the AARP does sponsor the program, you don’t need to be a retiree or senior citizen to get free tax help. It’s a charitable service and space is limited, so taxpayers with incomes over $75,000 are encouraged to hire a paid preparer, but aside from that all are welcome. Just go to AARP’s site locator to find a TaxAide location near you.
Certain taxpayers and filing situations have complexities that are outside the scope of volunteer training, and aren’t usually covered by the program. These include:
- Military personnel,
- Business owners with employees or inventory,
- Complex capital gains or losses (selling stock or family home is ok)
- Schedule E filings (you’re claiming depreciation on rental property, royalties, or partnership or trust income)
How It Works
Depending on the site, you may be required to make an appointment with your local TaxAide coordinator. You are asked to fill out a questionnaire beforehand, and bring it with you along with the documents needed to prepare your return and a copy of your previous year’s return. You will meet with a return preparer, who will go over your documents and prepare your tax return right there with you. When the volunteer is finished, another preparer will review things to make sure your return was prepared correctly, we will e-file your return if you desire, and you will get back all of your documents with a paper copy of your return. Usually, the whole process takes about an hour, not including any wait at a first-come, first-serve location.