Preparing and filing your tax returns can be daunting, but the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide stands ready to help, even if you’re not an AARP member.
Jackie Lynn Coleman, with Tax-Aide, said there are numerous locations in the Delaware Valley to access the free tax help, and it is also available through a drop-off service or online.
She asked what people should do to prepare for tax filing and said, “Every person is a little bit different.” But they should gather their income statements, whether through earned income, Social Security, annuities, death benefits, or stock dividends.
Along with income statements, a taxpayer should bring mortgage documents and charitable donation receipts.
The Tax-Aide volunteers are IRS trained and certified, which is good because the rules are different every year.
Pamela Kummer, a homemaker, has volunteered with the AARP Foundation, helping people with their taxes for 13 years. The Doylestown resident is the district coordinator for central and upper Bucks County and the state coordinator for half of Pennsylvania for Tax-Aide.
She enjoys “meeting with people” and “helping people,” she said.
“The IRS is not as nasty as they think it is,” said Kummer. “We run across the whole gamut. It’s wonderful to be able to help people.”
Volunteers do not need to be CPAs.
“They are all different backgrounds,” she said. Her husband, Karl, who volunteered before she did, is a retired engineer. “He started doing paper returns.” But now it’s all done on computers.
Asked what a widow or widower who never filed taxes before should do, Coleman said the same papers need to be gathered, the late spouse’s Social Security card and all the sources of income the couple had for the year.
She said there is a tool on their website to check to ensure you’re bringing all the necessary documents.
The Tax-Aide program provides free in-person and virtual tax help and preparation through April 18. It’s the nation’s most extensive free, volunteer-based tax preparation program and helped people receive more than $1 billion in refunds for more than 1.2 million taxpayers last year. The IRS offers it, and you don’t have to be an AARP member to take advantage of the program.
“AARP Pennsylvania is proud to be continuing our work with AARP Foundation Tax-Aide to provide Pennsylvanians with free tax assistance this year,” said Bill Johnston-Walsh, AARP Pennsylvania State Director. “We know even modest refunds can impact the lives of older adults, and our Tax-Aide volunteers help make sure they don’t miss out on the credits and deductions they have earned and need.”
As well as in-person and online help, Tax-Aide offers low-contact meetings and helps people prepare their own taxes. A counselor will coach them through the process by phone or through computer screen-sharing.
Access to these services depends on volunteer availability in each locality.
To find the nearest Tax-Aide location in your area, visit the Tax-Aide site locator or call (888) 227-7669. The site locator also features a Tax-Aide chatbot that can help book an appointment, answer questions about the program and transfer the conversation to a live agent if needed or requested.