AARP-TaxAide's free tax assistance program does not require people to be a member of AARP or a retiree to use this service. It covers low and moderate income taxpayers, with special attention paid to people 60 and older. The assistance covers both federal and state returns.
AARP Tax-Aide volunteers are trained in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Since 1968, the program has provided free tax assistance to nearly 50 million low- to middle-income taxpayers. Since these are volunteers, AARP is already seeking volunteers for next year, 2012.
AARP notes on its site that because Congress restored many of the prior year tax deductions, many forms need revision. Those who itemize deductions or have educational expense deductions will not be able to file a Federal tax return until February 14. Additionally, taxpayers that have these deductions may find their refunds arrive later this year.
In 2010 alone, over 1100 AARP Tax-Aide volunteers helped more than 85,000 people file their federal, state and local tax returns. AARP has a toll free number taxpayers can call, 1-888-AARPNOW (1-888-227-7669) or people can visit their Web site at http://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide/ and click on TaxAide sites to locate an AARP Tax-Aide site near them.
There is a FAQ at AARP's site, where you can view the most frequently asked income tax questions that AARP is seeing. One question which seems unanswered, however, is why the focus is on those 60 or older when those 50 or older can join AARP. In fact, there is also an "associate membership" that can be utilized for members under 50, and it only costs $12.50. Membership benefits are limited for associate members, however.
AARP Tax-Aide is a program of the AARP Foundation, which is AARP’s affiliated charity. According to Wikipedia, the AARP Foundation has programs that "provide security, protection and empowerment for older persons in need."
Some of the benefits that come from the AARP Foundation's programs include:
- Job training an placement services for low-income older workers
- The aforementioned free tax preparation service
- Protection of the legal rights of older Americans in critical health, long-term care, consumer and employment situations through the Foundation’s litigation staff
- Additional programs that provide information, education and services to ensure that people over 50 lead lives of "independence, dignity and purpose."
Foundation programs are funded by grants, tax-deductible contributions and AARP.
AARP's TaxAide free tax assistance program runs from Feb. 1 to April 18. This year, the IRS has extended the final tax of tax returns to April 18, because of the observation of Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia.