For many of us, the prospect of April 15th brings memories of a long-ago Beatles song and a large collective headache:
Should five per cent appear too small,
Be thankful I don't take it all.
'Cause I’m the taxman,
Yeah, I’m the taxman.
But a local group of AARP volunteers happen to love tax season, and they’re ready to share that love with you – in an incredibly generous way.
Starting today, Thursday, Feb. 3, at 10:30am, a small army of volunteer tax preparers stand ready to take your W2’s and 1040A’s and transform them, free of charge, into a document that will please the IRS and most likely save you money to boot. From now until tax season closes, Tucker residents can find the AARP Tax Aide volunteers on Mondays and Thursdays at the Northlake Branch of the DeKalb Public Library.
Who are the AARP Tax Aide volunteers?
Their mission states it thus: “AARP’s Tax-Aide program, a collaboration between the AARP Foundation and the Internal Revenue Service, provides free tax assistance and preparation services to low- and moderate-income taxpayers, with special attention to individuals age 60+." In essence, these Tucker citizens will help you prepare your taxes, unless you’re filing deductions for extensive investments, rental properties or other complicating factors.
These volunteers come from all walks of life, though most share an awe-inspiring love of numbers. Math teachers, engineers, and accountants make up their ranks – as well as retired folks who find a new calling helping others do a task many hate to do.
Volunteering to be an AARP Tax Aide is not for the faint of heart. Training begins in November of the previous tax year, when a 10-pound package containing all the training material from the IRS arrives in the mail. These include written tests, sample forms, and three or four bound books of updated income tax laws.
These stalwart individuals then spend the next three months learning everything about the coming year’s tax season. The process involves reading, some serious number crunching, and attending 24 to 40 hours of class time. In addition, each volunteer must pass three written tests with a grade of 80% or more.
Volunteers must undergo this same lengthy training process year after year, from November through January, so that they can be up to date on any tax law changes.
Those who’ve survived the process are then ready to meet the average tax filers’ demands, at a library or other AARP Tax Aide volunteer center near you.
A local volunteer shared this information with me: “The district containing Tucker has 46 preparers and these meet at ten locations throughout the county. No appointments are necessary and a ride by a participating library at 10 in the morning will show some folks lined up, waiting to get in and file their returns.”
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can visit this link.
Say you want to take advantage of this opportunity, what do you need?
Most importantly, anyone seeking to benefit from AARP Tax Aide’s aid must show up with all relevant tax documents – be these W2’s, 1099’s, or any pertinent real estate, banking, or educational credits documents. A copy of the tax return filed the previous years will also greatly help a volunteer to prepare the current year’s tax return. In addition, a social security card, or any document tying one’s name to one’s social security number, as well as picture ID are required.
A Tax Aide greeter is the first person a client will encounter. This greeter ensures that clients have all the necessary paperwork before meeting with a tax volunteer and, like a hostess at a friendly restaurant, leads the client to the first table, ready to take on yet another tax challenge.
The volunteer, who works 4-hours shifts, will begin to work his magic. Part of the volunteer’s mission is to help the client find ways to maximize all possible deductions, as well as answer any questions the client may have about the entire process.
A reviewer will then double-check the volunteers’ work. The AARP Tax Aide program adheres to the highest standards, and wants to make sure that all paperwork eventually submitted to the IRS complies with all regulations and avoids all mistakes.
So… procrastinating on taxes? Tempted to file an extension again? This time around you have no excuses – the AARP Tax Aide folks are waiting at a library near you.