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Free tax help offered through AARP Foundation

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Posted: Thursday, February 6, 2014 12:09 am | Updated: 12:11 am, Thu Feb 6, 2014.

FAIRBANKS — The AARP Foundation is once again offering free tax help to seniors and low- to middle-income taxpayers in Fairbanks.

Volunteers trained by the IRS will be available on a first-come, first-served basis from 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays and noon-3 p.m. Saturdays at the Noel Wien Public Library auditorium, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays at the Fairbanks Senior Center  through April 15. Sessions at the Fairbanks Senior Center are for seniors and disabled people and are by appointment only.

There is no age or income limit, and taxpayers seeking help do not need to be AARP members, coordinator Elizabeth Cook said. Volunteers are trained by the IRS and must pass a national exam to qualify for the program. 

“We do not have any income limits, although we are not trained or certified to do people who have extensive investments,” said Cook, who has been volunteering for the past 15 years. “We are able to do tax returns for about 95 percent of the people who walk through our door.”

That includes young and old individuals, families with or without children, and seniors living on pensions and Social Security, Cook said. Last year, volunteers prepared about 800 tax returns free of charge, most of which were filed electronically, she said.

There are certain types of returns volunteers are not trained to do, such as for military personnel and people with overseas income. If volunteers can’t figure something out or a return is beyond their scope, they advise clients to see a paid tax preparer, Cook said.

The program is funded by the IRS and the AARP Foundation, which is the nonprofit service arm of the AARP, Cook said. The program has 11 counselors who do tax returns and four greeters who help ensure incoming clients have all the right forms and information necessary for a tax-aide to do their return.

Taxpayers must bring Social Security cards for themselves and any children or dependents, a picture ID, a 2013 tax return if they have it, and statements showing all income for 2013, such as W-2 and 1099 forms; Social Security interest and dividends; and any information regarding college tuition paid, Alaska Native corporation dividends, and energy saving improvements.

People who itemize deductions should also be able to show property tax paid, mortgage interest paid, charitable donations, health insurance premiums paid, and unreimbursed medical payments.

Taxpayers with children or dependents must also bring Social Security cards for anyone listed on the tax form, the dependents’ birth dates, statements showing a child’s income and day care provider information (name, address and federal ID number) if it applies.

Anyone who has lost information regarding income can go directly to the IRS and ask for a printout of everything that’s been reported to the IRS, Cook said.

Contact staff writer Tim Mowry at

459-7587. Follow him on Twitter:

@FDNMoutdoors.

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