PNS Daily Newscast - July 3, 2020 

Economists say coronavirus disaster declarations may be the quickest path to reopening; militia groups use virus, Independence Day to recruit followers.

2020Talks - July 3, 2020 

Trump visits South Dakota's Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore today; nearby tribal leaders object, citing concerns over COVID-19 and a fireworks display. Plus, voter registration numbers are down from this time in 2016.

Fun With Taxes (Really!) – AR AARP Needs Tax Assistance Volunteers

The AR AARP wants volunteers for Tax-Aid - the largest free tax assistance program of its kind in the country. PHOTO courtesy of the AARP.
The AR AARP wants volunteers for Tax-Aid - the largest free tax assistance program of its kind in the country. PHOTO courtesy of the AARP.
October 28, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - It might not seem very likely, but there actually is a way to get some fun and satisfaction out of filing income taxes: The Arkansas AARP is looking for volunteers to help with their free tax assistance program.

According to Mike Rodda, who has been part of the AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide program for more than a decade, lots of the low- to moderate-income people they help come in feeling scared and overwhelmed, like the widow facing her first tax year after the death of her husband, who had always done the forms.

"She comes into our site with a shoebox full of papers and is really distraught," as Rodda described the scene. "The relief that these people see, and the smiles they give us, is really heartwarming."

Tax-Aide is the largest program of the kind, helping millions of working people a year, most of them over 60. Volunteers get 40 hours of at-home training, much of it on-line. They use sophisticated IRS-approved software to do simple returns, and are covered by liability insurance.

Rodda recalled that he saw an ad and thought he'd like to learn a new skill. Then, he said, he got the bug when he found out how much joy there was in helping people.

"I thought, 'Well, shoot, this would be a great way for me to learn how to do my own taxes, and I'll get free software.' And then one thing led to another; I'm now in the program for twelve years."

Rodda said you don't have to be a tax professional; you just have to like people and be decent with a computer. He said the program wants to boost the number of people it serves, in part because filing more returns is easy, once the system's in place.

"We don't want to have our volunteers sitting on a site all day with nobody to help. Because it's so much fun to help people we just hate to sit around and twiddle our thumbs."

He said people often feel intimidated when they don't need to, that even if they owe the IRS, it's easy to set up a payment plan.

He said Tax-Aide can file most returns in minutes, for free. And with direct deposit, people get their refunds in less than two weeks.

"If they have just like one or two W-2s, it's a shame for them to pay say $125 to have the simple return done, when we can do it in about 15 minutes."

Anyone interested in signing on to help can go to

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - AR