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AARP offers tax assistance through April 17
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 15 February 2012 00:00

Paying taxes can be confusing, especially for those without any real accounting background. It involves varying degrees of complexity, depending on which types of taxes people have to pay. Then there’s always the possibility the forms weren’t filled out correctly, and a deduction or something or other was missed.

There are some professionals who do help fill out other people’s tax forms for a living, but an army of volunteers is right here in the Verde Valley willing to help people with their taxes for free.

Jim Ash prepares taxes for Margaret Jones at the Camp Verde Senior Center on Feb. 1. Jones said she takes advantage of the free tax preparation by AARP volunteers every year.They’re volunteers for the Tax-Aide program, initiated nationwide every year by AARP.

It may be an AARP program, but it’s not limited to senior centers and AARP members. The volunteers will help almost anyone with their taxes, as long as they just make an appointment first.

There are a few exceptions. The volunteers won’t help people who have more complex tax situations, such as those with $10,000 or more in business expenses or people dealing with issues like depreciation on rental property.

While the program’s primary focus is on seniors and those with low incomes, nearly everyone is welcome to take advantage of the service.

The service is offered in Cottonwood and Camp Verde.

In Cottonwood, volunteers are on duty at the Verde Valley Senior Center from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. In Camp Verde, the service is available from 8:15 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with an additional team of volunteers working from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays to assist those people who can’t make it during regular business hours.

Last week, people were already filling up a back room at the Camp Verde Senior Center, where a team of volunteers was assisting people at a bank of computers.

“We help about 400 people a year,” said Yona Ash, a volunteer who helps keep the process streamlined.

Jim Ash, who helps people with their taxes using special software, said he’s been doing this work every tax season for years.

Ash said the computer program make the process run fairly smoothly, even more so than popular programs like TurboTax.

Volunteers have to initially go to special training classes, Ash said, and get their work checked out to make sure they are doing things correctly.

On the other side of the coin, taxpayer Margaret Jones has been taking advantage of the AARP tax program for years.

“It’s excellent,” Jones said. “It’s the greatest thing, absolutely. I come here every year to take care of taxes.”

The volunteers will be working from now through filing day, Tuesday, April 17, this year.

People do have to make an appointment, however, Ash said. In Cottonwood, call 634-5450. In Camp Verde, the number is 567-6356.


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