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California

Free Bilingual Tax Preparation Service

Tax-Aide served nearly 192,000 Californians last year

Before taking advantage of Tax-Aide, Anderson would have his tax returns done professionally.

"I save $300 a year by going to Tax-Aide," he said.

The program makes a difference for people on a limited income, Crisman said. "It breaks my heart," to see people who can't afford it paying $100 to $200 to get their taxes prepared when they could come to Tax-Aide and get the same service for free.

Reaching out to Latinos

Even with nearly 500 Tax-Aide sites around the state, Crisman said, they are looking to expand. "We are gradually growing. And because of the economy, we are seeing more people who cannot afford to pay" professional tax preparers, she said.

The all-volunteer program relies on people like Orinda resident Mike Cunningham.

Two years into his retirement, Cunningham, 68, spotted a newspaper blurb that Tax-Aide was seeking individuals who could volunteer to prepare income tax returns.

It was a perfect fit for Cunningham, who had prepared his own tax returns and those of family members for years.

Crisman, who began as a Tax-Aide volunteer 18 years ago, understands the need to reach the ever-growing Latino community, and make them aware of this free program. Although Tax-Aide offers Spanish-speaking services at many centers, many Spanish-speaking taxpayers do not know about the program.

Villaseñor can attest to this.

"Every year I come across people who live in the neighborhood and are coming in to Tax-Aide for the first time because they didn't know about it," he said.

To find a Tax-Aide site near you, or to set up an appointment, enter your ZIP code at the Tax-Aide Locator or call AARP California at 866-448-3614 toll-free.

Vicki Adame is a bilingual writer based in San Jose, Calif.

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Former U.S.Treasurer Anna Cabral talks about how easy it is to get involved with the AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide volunteer program.

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