PHOENIX, Ariz. — No one really looks forward to doing their taxes this time of year, but most Arizonans can get that c hore taken care of at no cost, through the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program.
The service is designed to help seniors and low- to moderate-income Arizonans. But with a few exceptions, it is open to everyone and you don’t need to be an AARP member to participate.
Susan Key, the Arizona state coordinator for Tax-Aide, says her group of certified volunteer tax counselors helped about 50,000 Arizonans prepare their federal and state tax returns last year.
“We have 77 sites in the state of Arizona,” Key says. “We go from Nogales to Bullhead City, up to Page; we’re in Winslow. They’re all different sites and there are 17 districts in Arizona. And then, each district has multiple sites.”
She says Tax-Aide sites are located in neighborhood libraries, malls, banks, community centers, and senior centers across Arizona. Appointments are available on the Tax-Aide website.
The program is funded by grants administered by the AARP Foundation, the charitable arm of national AARP. The program does not do complex returns, those for people with incomes of more than $100,000, or for businesses.
Key, who has been with the Arizona program for almost 20 years, says while many of the volunteer counselors have previous tax experience, all of them are certified by the Internal Revenue Service.
“They have to take certification tests; the test is written by the IRS,” she explains. “They must take the certification test, and they must pass at the advanced level, to be a tax preparer with AARP.”
She adds to have your taxes done by a Tax-Aide volunteer, you need a photo ID and Social Security card, copies of last year’s tax returns, Forms W-2 or 1099 and other evidence of income, banking records and evidence of expenses for itemized deductions.