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Need Tax Help? Just Call

February 19, 2007


There's help for Minnesotans who are struggling with income tax forms and/or can't afford an accountant to help sort them out. Free tax counseling and preparation services are now available statewide, from AARP Minnesota and Amy McDonough says they're just a phone call away.

"It's a confidential, free tax service that helps elderly folks and low-income families across the state. We have over 1,000 volunteers, trained by the I.R.S., who are willing to help you with your taxes."

McDonough adds whatever your age or income, you're welcome. Last year, more than 75,000 Minnesotans took advantage of AARP's "TaxAide" program. She says while the tax preparers may be volunteers, their skills are top-notch.

"It's amazing to me, the volunteers that come forward that want to help us with this program. A lot of them are retired teachers, retired accountants, people who have always enjoyed doing taxes. I think that takes a unique individual! And they're willing to sit down and help families through this. For so many people, it is just a really helpful service."

Some sites have bilingual volunteers, and arrangements can be made to assist shut-ins and persons with disabilities, or to visit special sites such as hospitals and nursing homes. McDonough says the free tax service started almost 40 years ago, to serve a growing need.

"There were a lot of elderly folks who weren't filing their taxes or weren't sure they had to file their taxes. So, it was really created as a public service, to help folks who had questions about filing or were intimidated by the filing process. We work closely with the I.R.S. to get the word out to people that they should come, bring their documents with them, and we will help them through the process. It really is done neighbor-to-neighbor in communities across Minnesota.

Details and locations available by phone at 888-AARP-NOW, or online at www.aarp.org/taxaide.

Jim Wishner/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - MN