Free Tax Preparation – AARP’s Tax-Aide Program

Corey —  December 17, 2009 — 5 Comments

       If your income falls in the low to middle range, you can get your tax returns prepared for free. How? By using AARP’s Tax-Aide Program.

What Is AARP Tax-Aide?

       AARP Tax-Aide is the nation’s largest, volunteer-run tax preparation and assistance program. It’s part of the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs. It is available to taxpayers with low and moderate incomes and gives special attention to people age 60 and older.

How Low Does My Income Need to Be?

       The IRS refers to moderate income as $50,000 or lower, but as an AARP Tax-Aide volunteer I can tell you this guideline is loosely followed. If you make $60,000/year, you’ll probably still be able to get help.

Not for Complex Returns

       If you have rental properties, a Schedule C (not C-EZ), a complex Schedule D, a Schedule F, or an otherwise complicated tax return, then AARP Tax-Aide (or any VITA program) is not for you. You should hire an experienced tax preparer – preferably a CPA.

Where Can I Go for Help?

       If you’d like to find an AARP Tax-Aide location near you, you can find one on their website starting in late January. If you can’t find an AARP Tax-Aide location near you, you can try calling 1-800-829-1040 to locate a VITA location near you.

How Well-Trained Are the Volunteers?

       AARP does not let just anyone volunteer for the Tax-Aide program. All volunteers are required to undergo a thorough training course mandated and created by the IRS. They are well-trained in how to handle the 1040 Form and the standard schedules.

       You may also find that many of the volunteers have a background in tax preparation or finance. For example, I volunteer and I’ve had two years of professional tax preparation experience. The local coordinator for my volunteer site was a CPA before she retired, and we had at least one other CPA volunteer last year. So the help you get may be quite good.

Can I File Electronically (E-file)?

       Electronic filing with direct deposit is the fastest way to get your tax refund from the IRS. Most AARP Tax-Aide sites offer electronic filing with no charge to the taxpayer. Many more sites are gaining the capabilities to e-file every year.

What If I Just Have a Tax Question?

       AARP offers free, year-round tax assistance via the Web for 24/7 help. You can find more information at the AARP Tax-Aide website.

I’d Like to Help! How Can I Volunteer?

       If you’d like to volunteer with AARP’s Tax-Aide program to help with the 2009 tax season, there’s still plenty of time. Go to their website to read more about becoming a volunteer and to fill out a volunteer form.

Corey

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Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

5 responses to Free Tax Preparation – AARP’s Tax-Aide Program

  1. Kudos to you for volunteering your time to help prepare tax returns! I’m sure the recipients appreciate your help.

    Forty-eight states require no training before a person hangs out a shingle for tax return preparation. At least when you go to VITA, you know that the person you’re working with has at least some training. I hear that the VITA training program is fairly rigorous, albeit targeted to the expected clientele (retirees).

  2. Thanks for your comment, Helen! The VITA training is quite rigorous for a volunteer program. I don’t know that I’ve noticed it to be focused only on retirees. It’s definitely not focused on tax returns for the wealthy, but it provides enough training to do most people’s tax returns.

  3. HAVE 2 KIDS, DIVORCED, SHE WANTS 1 FOR HER DED. YONGST 11GRD, DAUGHTAR FRESHMEN IN COLLEGE. I HAVE PAID TUITION. 2009 SHE GOT OLDEST, BUT 2010 CAN WE FLIP KIDS?

    2013 SON WILL START COLLEGE, I’LL PAY TUITION FOR BOTH. EX STILL WANTS 1 AS DED,BUT….. NOT!

  4. Hi, Deon. You’ll need to check out these rules for claiming dependents. The key factors here would be who provides support and where the children live. You might also want to read through the IRS rules on dependents, which covers how they treat people who could be considered the dependent of more than one person.

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