Tax return help available through AARP program

While officials at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service scramble to prepare for the 2011 tax season, one local woman and her troop of volunteers are well on their way to helping residents file their 2010 tax returns.

Part of the annual AARP Tax-Aide program, program coordinator Gloria Hopkins said she and her band of volunteers will begin training for the tax season — which includes a number of changes thanks to the late enactment of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act Of 2010 — in time to begin preparing tax returns Jan. 31.

“Things are moving along nicely for us,” Hopkins said. “Most of our volunteers from last year are back again this year, which really makes things easier. The one volunteer spot that was vacated has been filled, as well, so we feel really good going into this year's training.

“The AARP program provides free federal tax preparation assistance to people who cannot afford professional tax help, such as seniors, people with disabilities, those who don’t speak English and people with low-to-moderate income. AARP volunteers explain many special tax credits and deductions and how people may claim them on their tax returns. These volunteers help people complete their returns, right down to any refunds that may be due them.”

Tax law can quickly become confusing, according to Hopkins, and with so many changes being made from year to year it's easy to miss out on many government programs.

“There's just so much red tape involved, it's almost impossible for people to keep up with all of it,” said Hopkins. “And if they don't have the money to hire a tax professional, they can be missing out on all kinds of deductions and programs the government offers. This program gives them a chance to sit down with someone who is trained to deal with these things.”

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