Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tax Help, Free of Charge, for Pennsylvanians

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The prospect of doing your income taxes can bring on feelings ranging from a mild pain in the neck to outright panic. AARP has begun its annual Tax-Aide program, to help Pennsylvanians and tax filers nationwide navigate the process.

Bill Johnston-Walsh, AARP state director in Pennsylvania, called it a public service that many look forward to using each year.

"In Pennsylvania alone last year, we helped almost 120,000 individuals prepare their taxes," he said. "The IRS likes it too, because about 90 to 92 percent of our taxes, we e-file."

In 2013, he said, more than 1,400 volunteers worked at about 320 senior centers, libraries and other locations around the state for the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program.

Johnston-Walsh said AARP is fortunate to be able to draw its Tax-Aide volunteers from a qualified pool of people who know the complexities of today's tax code.

"We have retired accountants, retired IRS individuals," he said, "and every year they go through training, weeks of training, before we open up the season."

Tax-Aide doesn't do business taxes, he said, and the service is geared primarily for low- to middle-income taxpayers. He emphasized that Tax-Aide isn't limited to seniors.

"It's open to everyone," he said. "You don't have to be a member of AARP, but we like to do 'special attention' to those who are 50-plus."

According to AARP, taxpayers who used Tax-Aide last year received $1.3 billion in income-tax refunds and $244 million in Earned Income Tax Credits.

Those who are interested in using the service can find out more at

Tom Joseph

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