A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article on saving money while filing your taxes. I mentioned the free online versions of tax help, but I want to take a minute this week to remind you of two volunteer groups that help individuals file their taxes.
If you are one of those people who would rather take your materials to someone and let them prepare your return, you are in luck. Free help exists, and volunteers are ready to help.
AARP Tax-Aide provides free income tax return preparation and e-filing for all ages and incomes. The program is a joint effort between IRS and the AARP Foundation. Volunteers are rigorously trained, tested and certified as counselors to provide this free service to the community. Besides income tax return preparation, volunteers will gladly answer questions for those who choose to prepare their own returns.
Service will begin the second week in February and continue through the evening of April 15.
There are two sites in Fairbanks:
1) Noel Wien Library — every Tuesday evening, 5-7 p.m., and Saturday afternoons, noon to 3 p.m., first come, first served.
2) Fairbanks Senior Center — every Thursday, by appointment only.
AARP has 17 certified counselors who will assist taxpayers at Noel Wien Library and the Fairbanks Senior Center. Last year, this group prepared more than 600 returns in Fairbanks (more than 6,000 returns in Alaska and 2.6 million nationwide).
There are some topics that are out of this program’s scope. They don’t do business income that requires a Schedule C, but can complete a Schedule C-EZ. They only do Schedule E on a limited basis and are not trained to assist taxpayers with international issues. Military personnel should contact the income tax service unit on their post or base.
If you have questions about the AARP Tax-Aide program, call the library at
459-1020 or the senior center at 452-1735.
The second group is the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance group on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. It is run by the Great Alaskan Accounting People (GAAP) and they will help with tax returns. They will be in the Wood Center for four Saturdays, March 20, 27, April 3 and 10, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
They can do basic returns, but like the AARP program do not cover Schedule C or D and do not do returns that have rental income.
Questions about the VITA program can be directed to Amy Cooper, accounting instructor, at 474-5745.
What better way to help build great tax accountants for the future than to let them practice on you for free?
Individuals using either program should bring their Social Security cards and picture ID; Social Security cards and birthdates for all dependents; all income documents (W-2s, 1099s, etc.); child- or dependent-care provider information (name, address and tax identification number). It is often helpful to bring last year’s federal income tax return.
So if you are one of those (like me), who feels much better when someone else does your tax return, take advantage of one of these free programs. And, be sure to thank those volunteers profusely for the time they donate to help you out.
Roxie Rodgers Dinstel is a professor of extension on the Tanana District Extension Faculty. Questions or column requests can be emailed to her at rrdinstel@Alaska.edu.