Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today



Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Happy African American couple

AARP Books

Visit the Books Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular



Free Help Filing Your Taxes

Michigan volunteers helped over 75,000 state residents with tax preparation last year

Tax-Aide volunteer Jim Gonzales goes over tax documents with Ray Jimenez

Jim Gonzales, left, an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteer, recommended the free tax-preparation service to Ray Jimenez, of Taylor. The service is offered at nearly 200 sites from Feb. 1 to April 15. — Dean van Dis

For many Americans, there are few things more taxing than preparing to file their annual income tax returns.

"It's a shame that something every American citizen has to do is so complicated," said Bob Crews, 67, of Canton.

As the Michigan coordinator for AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, Crews oversees a group of more than 1,000 volunteers who help ease that burden for thousands of taxpayers at no charge.

In 2012, Tax-Aide volunteers served more than 75,000 people at 184 sites throughout Michigan. Those taxpayers received city, state and federal refunds totaling more than $26 million. This year, organizers hope to help even more clients.

Begun in 1968, Tax-Aide now serves about 2.6 million taxpayers annually. Run in cooperation with the IRS, it is the nation's largest free volunteer tax prep program.

Although the program is geared to help low- to moderate-income seniors, there are no age or income restrictions. "Six to seven years ago, most of our clientele were senior-aged, retired persons," Crews said. "But others would call, and word of mouth spread" about the service.

IRS-certified volunteers

Leadership training began in October for the program's computer specialists and the instructors who will train the volunteer tax preparers. The volunteer preparers will get roughly 35 to 50 hours of training.

"All tax preparers are required to attend training and pass the IRS certification test annually," Crews said, pointing out that even seasoned volunteers need to review tax law and administrative changes, as well as standards of conduct.

Jim Gonzales, a retired Detroit police officer, served as a Tax-Aide volunteer in the Downriver area for five years. "It's a good program, and … it's getting even more efficient," he said, noting that the speed and convenience of e-filing for most returns has replaced the collecting and mailing of paper returns.

"People from all walks of life volunteer," said Gonzales, 69, of Allen Park. "I've met retired engineers, a couple nurses, an airline pilot. I was really impressed with what these people did … They're trained well."

A typical session with a tax preparer takes 60 to 90 minutes. Most sites see clients by appointment only, but a few take walk-ins.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.