Free tax help offered

First Posted: 2/14/2009

When the economys rough, every little bit helps, and free tax assistance being offered locally could be a boost to residents tight on money.
The AARP (American Association for Retired Persons) Tax Aide Program now available at the Surry County Senior Center is a continuation of a service offered in recent years to low- and moderate-income residents.
Though the program is sponsored through the AARP, it is offered free of charge to people of all ages not just older adults, said Annalisa Davis, coordinator at the senior center on Jones School Road in Mount Airy.
The assistance could be especially welcome to citizens who have lost their jobs during the economic downtown and find themselves hard-pressed to secure paid tax services.
We feel this is a great service for our community, Davis added.
Last year we had over 500 people, she said of the number receiving help through the program. But the 2008 participation was inflated by the fact a federal stimulus payment caused senior citizens who werent otherwise required to do so to file tax returns in order to receive the money.
Since there is no such incentive this year, the numbers seeking the tax aid are expected to be less, according to Davis.
This year for the month of February, were offering it on Fridays, she said. Starting in March, were going to do it on Mondays and Fridays. Program hours generally are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Its by appointment only, Davis added.
Trained volunteers are providing the assistance. They are certified to do that through the program that the AARP has, Davis said.
The volunteers, who number about five in all, are the same individuals who manned the program last year. Davis added that they are equipped to help prepare the various 1040 forms and basic schedules. They can handle such tax considerations as child and dependent care, education credits, forms for injured spouses, the qualified savings credit and others.
AARP officials acknowledge that some tax matters are outside the volunteers scope. These include complicated or lengthy Schedule D forms for capital gains and losses, business profit and loss forms, Schedule E forms (for rental property and other taxation issues) and several others.
Those interested in the tax assistance can contact the senior center at 786-6155 (Extension 225) to schedule an appointment or obtain more information.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.

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