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Volunteers Needed to Help Seniors Prepare Tax Returns

Montgomery County Tax-Aide volunteers prepared more than 4,500 returns in 2015. Credit: stevepb/pixabay.com
Montgomery County Tax-Aide volunteers prepared more than 4,500 returns in 2015. Credit: stevepb/pixabay.com
November 30, 2015

GERMANTOWN, Md. – Tax day may still be months away, but in Montgomery County efforts are already underway to recruit volunteers to give free tax assistance to low and moderate-income seniors.

The AARP Tax-Aide program is the largest volunteer-run tax assistance service in the country.

Kathleen Meaney Stobie, director of the county's Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP, says there are a variety of opportunities for people who want to help.

"Usually we have people who maybe have said, 'Oh I like doing my own taxes or I like doing my neighbor's taxes or I like math,'” she relates. “Most of our volunteers are retired and they're over the age of 55."

There's a volunteer orientation at the Silver Spring Library this Friday. Information is available on the Montgomery County Volunteer Center website, montgomeryserves.org.

Volunteer tax counselors get a week of training from the IRS to get certified as tax preparers. Stobie points out that those who may not enjoy actually filling out tax forms can volunteer to serve as facilitators, or as schedulers.

"They're the ones who help people make appointments to have their taxes done,” she explains. “Client facilitators greet the clients. They help them get all their papers organized so that they're ready to meet with the counselor."

Last year 120 volunteers prepared more than 4,500 federal and state tax returns, mostly for people over 60 years old.

RSVP/AARP tax assistance will be available at more than 20 locations in Montgomery County alone. Stobie says many clients have come to rely on the program.

"Because they don't have an alternative,” she points out. “They can't afford to pay to have their taxes prepared and they feel comfortable with a volunteer who has been well trained and certified to assist them with their tax preparation."

Once tax season begins, people needing assistance in other parts of Maryland and across the country can find locations by zip code through the AARP website.


Andrea Sears, Public News Service - MD