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Tax Aide Volunteers Help Oregonians Get Back $56 Million in Returns

AARP's volunteer tax aide program helped more than 87,000 people file their taxes. (pixabay)
AARP's volunteer tax aide program helped more than 87,000 people file their taxes. (pixabay)
June 23, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - Tax aide volunteers helped Oregonians get back nearly $56 million in returns this year. That's according to AARP, which provided volunteers and resources to help more than 87,000 seniors and people with low incomes file their taxes. Bob Bruce, Oregon state coordinator for AARP's tax aide program, said the program helped a lot of people. But he thinks even more could be served in the future.

"Our sense is, believe it or not, that we are just scratching the surface in helping people," he said.

Bruce said the tax aide program had about 1,300 volunteers this year. He said filing for taxes has become more difficult in recent years and that volunteers are there for people who aren't able to pay for professional tax preparation.

Bruce said a vital part of returns this year was the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps low-income families pay for basic needs. This year, Oregon lawmakers
passed a bill expanding that tax credit. He said although many families did know about it, the tax credit provided a large chunk of the $56 million volunteers helped return.

"Fifteen million of that was earned income tax credits, credits for which many of these folks don't even know that they qualified for, and had they done them on their own, they may not have claimed those credits."

Bruce said the tax aide program is also playing a crucial role in stimulating the state's economy by helping so many people put money back in their pockets.

"We're kind of an unrecognized economic development program," he added. "And it costs the state of Oregon absolutely nothing for this service because all of the tax preparation work is provided free of charge."

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR