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Free tax-aide program available for Tennesseans

From now through April 15, Tennessee residents who need help getting their income taxes done can turn to the AARP Foundation’s free Tax-Aide program at more than 60 community sites statewide.

While anyone can use the free tax-preparation service, Tax-Aide coordinator Emily Paul said it’s geared for people who are lower-income and 50 or older, a demographic less likely to have access to a computer and online tax-prep tools. She said the Tax-Aide volunteers will need to see a person’s tax documents, which can be brought to the nearest Tax-Aide location, often a library or senior center.

“All of your tax documents need to come in with you,” she said. “We’ll work to make sure that they all get put on the correct line. All of our counselors are IRS-certified and trained.”

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She noted that people don’t have to be AARP members to use the program. For more information, look online at aarpfoundation.org/taxhelp or call 1-888-AARPNOW.

Paul said tax season is prime time for fraud. She said scammers recently have made phone calls pretending to be associated with the Tax-Aide program, but stressed that the AARP Foundation will never call a taxpayer unless they’re returning a call to schedule an appointment.

“But you’ll never get a call just out of the blue,” she said. “And on that phone call, when you make the appointment, they will never ask you for any personally identifying information. No Social Security numbers, nothing like that.”

Last year, the Tax-Aide program relied on more than 450 volunteers across Tennessee. Paul said volunteers still are needed for this season. It’s good to have tax-preparation experience, but there are other volunteer positions available that don’t require it.

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“But just help people fill out all of the paperwork, get their paperwork organized and things like that, that doesn’t require any hands-on computer work,” she said.

According to the AARP Foundation, taxpayers who used the program last year nationwide received $1.6 billion in income tax refunds and more than $200 million in Earned Income Tax Credits.

More information is online at aarp.org.

Disclosure: AARP Tennessee contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service – TN

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