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Tax-Aide: Get Free Help With Your 2020 Tax Return

AARP Foundation's tax-prep program adapts to pandemic with low- and no-contact options

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Peter Oumanski

AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide program, the largest free, volunteer-based tax assistance and preparation program in the U.S., stands ready to assist with state and federal returns. This year, Tax-Aide will offer several ways to get tax help safely during the pandemic.

The nationwide tax help program is aimed at people 50 and older and those who have low to moderate incomes, but Tax-Aide is open to anyone free of charge. You don't need to be an AARP member to take advantage of Tax-Aide's knowledgeable volunteers, nor will there be any sales pitch for other services. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) set Feb. 12 as the date it would begin processing 2020 tax returns. The deadline to file a federal return is May 17.

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"For more than 50 years, Tax-Aide has helped low-income Americans file their taxes, and in that time, we've seen how even modest refunds can be a lifeline for older adults struggling to make ends meet,” said Lynnette Lee-Villanueva, vice president of the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program. “As the pandemic threatens the health and financial security of millions of Americans, Tax-Aide has innovated new and expanded services to help people avoid missing out on the tax credits and deductions they've earned."

Tax-Aide's 3,600 volunteers are certified by the IRS. In 2020, despite limitations on in-person assistance due to the coronavirus, the 1.5 million taxpayers who used AARP Foundation Tax-Aide received more than $1 billion in income tax refunds.

4 ways to get free tax help

In response to the pandemic, Tax-Aide will offer four options to help taxpayers fill out and file their tax returns:

  • In-person: In Tax-Aide's traditional in-person service, tax counselors prepare and file tax returns — now with strict physical distancing and masking requirements in place.
  • Low-contact: Taxpayers meet with Tax-Aide volunteers in one or two short, in-person meetings to exchange documents.
  • Contact-free: Taxpayers interact with Tax-Aide counselors online and by phone and exchange documents electronically.
  • Self-preparation: Tax-Aide gives taxpayers free access to software so they can prepare their own taxes. Taxpayers can also get help from a Tax-Aide counselor to coach them through the process via computer screen-sharing.

Note that this season, all of Tax-Aide's services are by appointment only.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteers can help with most but not all tax returns. For example, if you are eligible and did not receive all or part of a stimulus payment to which you are entitled, they can help you get a tax credit for the amount you're owed. You can also get help with earned income tax credits, childcare credits, estimated taxes and more. If you have an extremely complicated return, such as one that involves a small business with employees, rental income or alternative minimum taxes, Tax-Aide may not be able to help.

How to reach Tax-Aide

The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide service will be available through April 15. For more information, including what types of service are available near you and which documents you will need, visit or call 888-AARPNOW (888-227-7669).

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