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Free Service Makes Tax Time Less Taxing for Michiganders

PHOTO: Free tax help is available for Michiganders through AARP's Tax-Aide program. More than 1,000 trained volunteers are available at sites across the state to help older and middle-to-low income individuals file their local, state, and federal income tax returns right up to the April 15 deadline. Photo courtesy AARP.
PHOTO: Free tax help is available for Michiganders through AARP's Tax-Aide program. More than 1,000 trained volunteers are available at sites across the state to help older and middle-to-low income individuals file their local, state, and federal income tax returns right up to the April 15 deadline. Photo courtesy AARP.
February 28, 2014

LANSING, Mich. - Tax season is here, and so is free help for those in need.

AARP's Tax-Aide program, the nation's oldest free tax-preparation service, can help middle- and lower-income older Michiganders prepare basic federal, state and local income tax returns - for free.

Mark Hornbeck, communications director for AARP Michigan, said more than 1,000 trained volunteers are ready to help at nearly 200 sites across the state.

"You can find your Tax Aide site at www.aarp.org/taxaide," he said.

While the tax help program is aimed primarily at those 60 and older, it's open to everyone, and AARP membership is not required to take advantage of it. Hornbeck said help is available until the April 15 deadline, and that the volunteers are well-prepared for the task.

"Preparers get somewhere between 35 and 50 hours worth of training before they can sit down and work with people on returns," he said.

Hornbeck said all returns are double-checked, and most sites do require appointments. It's important for those seeking help to bring all their tax documents, he said, including last year's tax returns, income statements and official documentation for the taxpayers and their dependents.

Hornbeck said the program assists from 70,000 to 75,000 taxpayers each year in Michigan. Last year the program helped them secure $27 million in income tax refunds, including $3.2 million in Earned Income Tax Credits. Tax Aide sites can also be located by calling 888-227-7669.

More information is online at aarp.org/taxaide.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI