Tuesday, March 11, 2008

AARP tax help at the library

AARP offers tax help during stressful time
by Amy Kane

(Reprinted from the Hampton Union, March 11, 2008)

Volunteers are providing free tax preparation help for low- and moderate-income individuals, with special attention to those 60 and older, at several locations on the Seacoast as part of the AARP Tax Aide program.

"We see that those people who need money the most get every cent coming to them without added expenses," said Ann Kaiser, tax aide site coordinator in Hampton.

On Monday and Wednesday evenings and Tuesday and Thursday mornings, IRS-trained volunteers are on hand at Lane Memorial Library in Hampton. Help is first come, first served.

"We try to match volunteer to client by areas of expertise, and according to problems they may have," said Kaiser.

It is important people wait until they receive all the W-2s and statements they may need, said Kaiser. Volunteers strive to file every return electronically, with refunds deposited directly in individuals' bank accounts.

"We strongly urge people to sign up for direct deposit for returns," said Kaiser. "They just need to bring a bank routing number and account number. Refunds will be deposited there. If they owe, it can be withdrawn from a checking or savings account."

Kaiser said even if they have no taxable income, they have to file this year to qualify for the economic stimulus package rebate.

People are eligible for a rebate up to $600 for a joint return and $300 individually if their qualifying income is more than $3,000. Qualifying income includes wages and salaries, self-employment income, and Social Security benefits. More than $75,000 and the rebate phases out incrementally.

Kaiser was Hampton's tax collector for many years and now dedicates volunteer time to the Tax Aide program.

"I've been fortunate in my life and now it's time to help out others," she said.

Volunteer John Sovich said, "As a tax aide, I have found it very rewarding to have a senior citizen come to our site looking confused and worried about their taxes only to leave with their return completed and e-filed and their mood greatly improved."

Kaiser said the Hampton site is fully staffed but some other sites in the Seacoast could use more volunteers.

The AARP Tax Aide program is the nation's largest free, volunteer-run tax preparation and assistance service.

"You do not need to be a member of AARP, or even old enough to join AARP, to qualify for free help," said Kaiser.

AARP Tax Help is available in Hampton at the Lane Memorial Library on Mondays and Wednesdays: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9:15 to 11:30 a.m., through April 15th.


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