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President Trump's reported to be ready to sign disaster relief bill without money for border security. Also on the Friday rundown: House bills would give millions a path to citizenship; and remembering California’s second-deadliest disaster.

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The Tax Man Cometh, but Help is Available

Volunteers are available across the region to help prepare taxes for 2016. (
Volunteers are available across the region to help prepare taxes for 2016. (
February 2, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesotans should have received their W-2 forms and bank statements in the mail by now and may be worrying about how to fill out those sometimes complicated income tax forms for Uncle Sam. But there's free help available across the state.

The AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide program is the largest free tax preparation service in the country. Jay Haapala, associate state director of community outreach for AARP Minnesota, said help is available now through April 18.

The focus of the program is on people age 50 and older and those who can't afford to use a paid tax preparer, but the service is available to anyone who needs it. Haapala said every year, volunteers help thousands of people fill out IRS forms.

“[Some] might just have a few questions that they need answered and our volunteers can assist with people's questions,” Haapala said; "but they can also help people complete their filings, too."

In Minnesota, the Tax-Aide program has more than 1,000 volunteers who work in 150 different sites, including libraries, churches, and community centers.

Another bit of advice: File early. Not only will the wait for your refund be shorter, but according to Dan Hendrickson, communications coordinator with the Better Business Bureau in Minnesota, scam artists have devised a number of ways to steal your Social Security number and take your refund.

"They definitely do some dumpster diving,” Hendrickson said. "We know there have been a number of high profile breaches, data breaches, in recent years. Unfortunately, there's a ton of information out there on all of us."

To locate help in preparing income tax returns, AARP has a Tax-Aide locator that can pinpoint the nearest Tax-Aide site by zip code. The tool is available at

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MN