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Free Service Makes Tax Prep Less ‘Taxing’ for Older Californians

The income tax filing deadline is now less than two months away, but the return preparation process can be less taxing for those 60 and older. AARP’s Tax-Aide program helps middle- and lower-income older Californians prepare basic federal and state income tax returns, for free.

According to Charee Gillins with AARP California, they have 3000 volunteer tax preparers ready to help at hundreds of sites across California.

“They’re there to walk the taxpayers through the various questions that they have and to, you know, get some money back into their hands,” she said.

The program was started in 1968. Gillins said that last year they helped Californians secure $92 million in income tax refunds.

While the tax help program is aimed primarily at those 60 and older, it’s open to everyone, and AARP membership is not required to take advantage of it. Gillins said the volunteers are well prepared for what they do.

“They’re trained on the type of tax questions that come from AARP members and retirees,” she said. “Sometimes there’s new provisions and forms that are relevant to them,” she said. “Or sometimes there’s a spouse who doesn’t know how to proceed because, you know, their spouse is gone.””

Gillins said walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are encouraged at Tax-Aide sites.

“They can go to AARP.org/findtaxhelp, or they can call 888-227-7669. Either of those places will help you locate a site in your community. There’s over 465 sites in California alone,” she said.”

It’s important for those seeking tax help to bring all of their tax documents, including last year’s tax returns, Social Security cards, or other official documentation for the filer and dependents.