I am not really sure what bugs me more this time of year, the daylight savings time fiasco or tax season. Luckily, Grandpa takes on the burden of getting our files ready for the tax preparer, but he has yet to get me back that one hour of sleep I lost last weekend. Keep trying, Dear!
For those who are like me and wouldn’t know exactly where to start for taxes, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers free, individualized tax preparation for low- to moderate-income taxpayers age 50 and older. I called their toll-free number and spoke with a very helpful woman who verified the program was still available, and the locations near us at which it’s offered:
The Brentwood Library at 104 Oak St., open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. until April 14. 925-516-5290.
The Brentwood Civic Center at 150 City Park Way, open Mondays from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. until April 16. 925-516-5400.
The Antioch Senior Center at 415 W. 2nd St., open Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. until April 18. 925-778-1158.
You must call ahead for an appointment and there may be a location requiring you to get on a waiting list for this year. The people doing this are all volunteers and they tend to get booked up early, but call and get the information from the place nearest you. There are other neighboring facilities you can find on the AARP website at www.AARP.org. Once you have an appointment, you must bring all pertinent tax data, including ID and your tax returns from last year. There’s a complete list on the website of everything you will have to take to the preparer — make sure you check those out and include everything they ask for, especially if you’re filing a long form with itemized deductions.
Federal tax assistance is available at all locations. State tax assistance is available at all locations in California for in-state residents, and may be available to out-of-state residents of select neighboring states. Please contact the place in your neighboring state to confirm they can meet your needs and, since they’re volunteers, it would be in your best interest to verify your appointment that day. This is free tax preparation help and you don’t have to be an AARP member to take advantage of this service. If they are booked with existing appointments this year, get on the list for possible cancellations and mark your calendar to sign up early next year.
If you’re interested in making a difference in your community, consider becoming a volunteer tax preparer. All levels of expertise are needed and some are as easy as helping to fill out a short form for those who may be sight-impaired. You can learn about that at the website as well.
You’ll work with taxpayers directly, filling out tax returns and helping them request a refund. Experience isn’t necessary. AARP will provide training and IRS certification. There are also other possibilities for volunteering through AARP so read through the options. Bilingual preparers are in big demand. If you speak other languages you will be welcomed with especially open arms! You can help prepare taxes as well as assist other volunteers who need a translator.
The phone number for AARP is 888-687-2277. You can hit 0 to speak to someone directly about the numerous benefits, and if you aren’t a member you may want to peruse the website and see all they have to offer. There are lots of discounts and great suggestions to help seniors with an enormous amount of information and aid. Membership costs $16 per year and I, for one, think it’s well worth it. Between savings at hotels, car rentals, insurance and a world of valuable information, I rely on them for many perks. Again, you don’t have to be an AARP member to take advantage of the tax assistance, but if you visit the website, you can see if the rest of their services are things you can use.
Those websites again for you: AARP main website: www.aarp.org; free Tax-Aide program (with location finder and list of documents to bring: www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide. You may also email them questions at email@example.com.
Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with senior care and advocacy groups. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.