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Help With Tax Time Stress

Published in the March 2012 issue of PRIME.

Are you already struggling with tax time stress? We may be able to help. From now through April 17, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, the largest volunteer-run, free tax preparation program in the country, is up and running right here in Springfield and surrounding areas.

In fact, we have 575 volunteers deployed across the commonwealth at senior centers, libraries, and other convenient locations to help older residents with basic federal and state tax returns. In western Massachusetts alone, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteers are working at 39 different sites.

Trained in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, our volunteers are well-versed in tax rules, including:

  • The “Circuit Breaker” tax credit which is available for Massachusetts property owners and renters who are age 65 and older and meet certain criteria
  • Energy Efficiency Credits which may be available to qualifying Bay State residential property owners
  • Schedule HC, proof of health insurance coverage, which is required of all Massachusetts residents

Recently, we asked one volunteer, Russell Boutiette of Sutton, why someone should come to AARP Foundation Tax-Aide for help. He said, “You’ll not only get an accurate tax return, you will also get a welcoming preparer who is focused on you and your situation through the entire process.” And, Russell is right.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide consistently achieves a significant rate of repeat customers, who say they return year after year due to the knowledge, skill, friendliness and helpfulness of the volunteers. In fact, a recent AARP survey found that 95 percent of AARP Foundation Tax-Aide clients are very satisfied with the service, and 96 percent would be highly likely to recommend it to others needing help.

And, remember, our service is free – no strings attached.

So, is AARP Foundation Tax-Aide right for you?

Last year, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteers helped 30,000 Massachusetts residents with tax returns and questions. Our volunteers are ready to help you file basic federal and state income tax returns. If you have a low- to moderate-income, we can help ensure you receive all the applicable tax credits and deductions so you have more discretionary income for everyday essentials – such as food and housing.

Before meeting with an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteer, all you need to do is gather together some basic information. Then, bring the documents with you to the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide site, including:

  • 2011 tax forms and preparation booklet
  • Copy of last year’s income tax returns
  • W-2 forms from each employer
  • Unemployment compensation statements
  • SSA-1099 form if you were paid Social Security benefits
  • 1099-HC form if you have private health insurance
  • All 1099 forms (1099-INT, 1099-DIV, 1099-misc) showing interest and/or dividends as well as documentation showing the original purchase price of your sold assets
  • 1099R forms if you received a pension or annuity
  • All receipts or canceled checks if itemizing deductions

To find an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide site in your community, or one nearby, call 1-888-AARP-NOW (1-888-227-7669).

And, a quick tax tip from me to you: Don’t wait – make your appointment today. Our volunteer service experiences high demand through the tax season, and schedules can fill up quickly.

A lifelong Springfield resident, Linda F. Fitzgerald is the volunteer state president of AARP Massachusetts, which serves more than 800,000 members age 50 and older in the commonwealth. This editorial appears in the March 2012 edition of PRIME, the monthly mature market magazine.

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