Mt. Vernon Register-News

December 26, 2012

AARP Tax-Aide program offers free tax help

By TESA GLASS
tesa.glass@register-news.com

MT. VERNON — — Free help for those getting ready to send in their tax returns is available starting Jan. 28.

The AARP Tax-Aide program will be open at its Mt. Vernon site at Central Christian Church on Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. starting Jan. 28, according to site coordinator Tom Charlton, and those seeking help don’t have to be a member of AARP or a senior.

“We don’t discriminate on membership,” Charlton said. “We are sponsored by the IRS. They provide grant money for this program and we are trained by the IRS.”

Charlton said the “target market” for the volunteer-run program is young people, those 60 and older and those with low to moderate income.

“We really like to get the students in,” Charlton said. “We can save them money they really need. College students who have to pay $50 to $100 to get their taxes done really need that money, it’s money they can save. ... We love to get people in that really need it — seniors who don’t have money to afford to pay an accountant and those young people who can’t afford to pay someone to prepare their taxes. Those are the people we can do the best job for and need the help the most.”

This year will mark 25 years the free program has been held in Mt. Vernon. Charlton said in 2012, the program filed more than 1,100 tax returns for those in Mt. Vernon, and about 650 in Centralia and Salem which saved area taxpayers about $175,000 in tax preparation fees. Returns are filed electronically, with most taxpayers getting direct deposit refunds back in seven to 10 days.

Those using the service are asked to bring a Social Security card for each person named in the return and a government-issued identification such as a driver’s license or state ID card for the main taxpayer; all income-related documents; brokerage statements or other documents showing the cost basis and date purchased for all securities and property sold or transferred during the tax years; expense-related documents such as paid real estate tax forms, 1098T forms for tuition, educational expenses lists, medical, dental, charity or business expenses and mortgage interest paid. Expense receipts need to be in reasonable order, legible and totaled. A copy of your previous year tax return will help the workers prepare the current return correctly.

For a direct deposit of a refund or direct debit of taxes owed, bring a checkbook so the routing and account numbers can be entered.