With tax season fast approaching, AARP’s Tax-Aide program will be available to help Kenai Peninsula residents in need of tax assistance.
AARP first introduced Tax-Aide in 1968 as a free service for taxpayers with low to moderate income, in order to help them prepare their tax returns. According to the AARP website, each year, more than 2.6 million people are helped nationwide by the program’s 35,000 volunteers.
While Tax-Aide has been available in the central peninsula area in past years, this year sees the service move from the Sterling Senior Center to the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Library in Soldotna.
Volunteers will be available every Thursday from 1-5 p.m. starting on Feb. 5 through April 15. Additional time will be available on the second Saturday of each month leading up to the tax deadline.
Donna Brown, Tax-Aide’s Kenai District Coordinator, said that 93 people e-filed returns last year in the district. She said the move to Soldotna will help attract even more people to Tax-Aide.
“It’s a better location,” Brown said. “It’s more central.”
Brown said that all of the people helping with Tax-Aide in Alaska are volunteers. The program is currently looking for volunteers possessing various skills. According to the AARP website, available positions include tax volunteer, technology coordinator, greeter and administrative volunteer.
Brown said that before working with the public, volunteers will be trained and have several practice scenarios.
Currently, the Kenai district has three volunteers, but Brown said that with more volunteers, the program could expand its hours in the library. While Brown would like more volunteers, she is pleased with the ones she currently has.
“We’re blessed to have some people who have (important skills),” Brown said.
While Tax-Aide is part of AARP, people of all ages can come for assistance. Brown said that in the past, 15-20 percent of people coming in for help have been younger than 60.
People wanting assistance with their tax returns must provide documents including but not limited to photo identification, social security card or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, W-2 forms, last year’s tax return and 1099 forms.
Due to the Affordable Care Act, people must also bring in the appropriate health care documentation showing when they were covered. Brown said that the program does e-file returns, and doesn’t assist with overly complicated returns.
Brown said that so far, Tax-Aide on the Kenai Peninsula has been successful, and residents are pleased with the service.
“People are grateful,” Brown said. “They’ve had good experience before with AARP.”
Reach Ian Foley at firstname.lastname@example.org.