AARP Foundation began offering free tax preparation and filing in Arkansas on Saturday, Feb. 1.
According to Lydia Plant, Arkansas State Administrator for AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, anyone with a personal tax return can get it filled out and filed electronically, without paying any fees. She said that means that with direct deposit the taxpayer can get the full refund he or she is entitled to in days, without losing any of it.
"Our service is free, and since we’re doing it by e-file, all the refunds will be received within two weeks. And there is no fees attached at all," Plant declared.
Locally, the foundation will offer help for low income individuals and seniors from 2 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at the Booneville Library, located at 419 North Kennedy Street. For more information call 675-6500. Services will also be offered Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Bank of the Ozarks, west side branch, 2011 West Commercial in Ozark.
Anyone utilizing the program is urged to bring a copy of last year’s tax return, W-2 forms from each employer, unemployment compensation statements, SSA-1099 forms, all 1099 forms, any other forms indicating Federal income tax paid, dependent care provider information and or all receipts or cancelled checks if itemizing deductions.
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is the largest program of its kind and has been doing this for nearly half a century. Plant said that for most people the process actually is quick and painless, and she says they’ve helped families get millions more in refunds they might have missed out on because they didn’t know they qualified for the Earned Income Tax Credit, or other credits waiting for them in the tax code.
"Many people may qualify and did not know about that," she said. "Of course, all our volunteers are trained to get the most credit for the taxpayer."
She said they like to focus on moderate-income families and people over 60, but they won’t turn away anyone with a personal return. Plant pointed out that getting same-day refunds can cost taxpayers as much as a third of their checks, so it makes much more sense to let AARP prepare the return and wait a few days for the money.
"The tax-aid program volunteers, we do not charge anything, and they are IRS-certified, so it’s a much better refund than if you have to pay someone for it," she said.
Last year hundreds of trained, IRS-certified tax-aide volunteers at dozens of senior centers and libraries helped tens of thousands of Arkansans file their state and federal taxes for free. This year’s sites will start opening Feb. 1, but each location’s opening day may vary.
For more information, visit AARP.org or call 1-888-AARP-NOW (1-888-227-7669).