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Ramping Up for Tax Season with AARP Michigan's Tax-Aide Team

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide counselors helped 65,000 Michigan tax filers receive $28 million in refunds last year. (Adobe Stock)
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide counselors helped 65,000 Michigan tax filers receive $28 million in refunds last year. (Adobe Stock)
January 13, 2020

LANSING, Mich. -- Tax season officially starts soon, and hundreds of volunteers are finalizing their training so they can help Michiganders prepare their returns.

The AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide Program runs from Feb. 1 thru Apr. 15, and volunteer preparers can assist filers with their forms and identify possible credits or deductions. Peter Elliott heads up the group's Michigan Tax-Aide Team, and said roughly 800 counselors will be available at 150 sites.

"All of our counselors, in addition to the training, they have to pass three competency tests that the IRS provides. If they don't pass that then they're not allowed to do returns," Elliott said. "So everybody is trained and certified."

AARP tax prep services are free to people of all ages. In 2019, their volunteers helped more than 65,000 Michiganders receive $28 million in refunds. Elliott has worked with the program for more than 16 years, and said he understands that taxes can be complicated, especially for older adults experiencing retirement and other life changes.

"Every year you'll do a return for somebody who's excited about getting a $300 property tax credit. It means a lot to them," he said. "Older people, sometimes they get really worried about filling out forms and things, so seeing the smile on their face when they find they're getting a credit makes it worth it."

He encouraged people to set up an appointment with a tax counselor sooner rather than later, because some sites fill up very quickly.

"But you don't want to make the appointment so soon that you don't have your paperwork together," he said. "If you think you need it, bring it. We can always sort through and pick out what we need; anything to do with income, your property tax bills, Social Security statement for seniors, photo ID."

Site locations can be found online at aarpfoundation.org/taxhelp.

Disclosure: AARP Michigan contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI