Free income tax preparation program looking for volunteers

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Jan. 17—The AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program will help anyone prepare income tax forms for submission to the Internal Revenue Service, but this year the local branch is a little short-handed.

“We normally do 900, but if I don’t find more volunteers we’ll probably top off at 650,” said Joe Ruf, site leader of the Tax-Aide group. “If I don’t have the people, I don’t have the people.”

From Feb. 1 to April 14, the group will operate out of Advent Christian Church at 1811 Ellis St. in Brunswick.

Starting Feb. 1, anyone can make an appointment by calling 912-265-7023. Everything is done in person, he said, and typically takes around 45 minutes.

All one needs to bring is tax forms — W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, 1095s, etc. — a driver’s license and Social Security cards or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers for everyone on the tax forms.

This year’s filing deadline is April 17, but AARP volunteers will only be working until April 14.

“It’s important to call early,” Ruf said. “We had 15 people who called on the last day (last year) and we were closed.”

The AARP program has been operating in Brunswick for around 27 years, Ruf said, but this year he lost three of his regular helpers and needs at least that many to keep pace with the number of people who sought the program’s help in 2022. Just over 900 attempted to make an appointment, and he believes they got to all but a dozen or so.

One doesn’t need any special education, just a basic ability to do math and a willingness to take some courses and pass a test from the IRS.

Almost all of the people who walk in are in the middle- to low-income brackets and more than half are retirees on fixed incomes, he said. Getting income tax filings prepared by a private company can cost around $200 to $250.

“It’s a very rewarding thing because these people are so appreciative,” Ruf said.

That doesn’t mean the AARP tax service is only for retirees. Anyone is welcome.

“We do a lot for kids at the college and high school,” Ruf said. “They’re working summer jobs and have withholdings, so they want to get that money back.”

To inquire about volunteering, call Ruf at 404-310-3013.

The AARP tax service can handle personal income tax filings, capital gains, Affordable Care Act filings and retirement income. Ruf said the group can also do taxes for very small businesses.



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