Volunteers Provide Free Tax Assistance

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Lois Fall of Payson needed help preparing her taxes this year so she turned to Tax-Aide volunteer Alyce Leach for some free help and advice.


Fall was one of more than 70 people who sought help with their taxes this week at the Elks Lodge in Payson through Tax-Aide, a free tax assistance program sponsored by A.A.R.P. and the IRS.

"I think it's wonderful," Fall said. "Everybody is so pleasant and efficient."


The program, which is available three days a week in Payson and one day a week in Pine, is free to anyone who needs help preparing their individual or joint tax returns.


Payson's 16 Tax-Aide volunteers, who all underwent 34 hours of training in January, can help clients prepare electronic or traditional tax forms -- as long as they're not too complicated.


"It's free to any low-to middle-income person," local Tax-Aide Coordinator Joan Stephens said.

"But some returns are difficult and we tell them to see a paid tax preparer. The difficult ones involve businesses, farms, people with rental properties and royalties, like from oil companies and things like that.


"There's no fee to file -- everything is free except the 10-cents-a-page for the Xerox machine to pay the Elks back," she said. "Most of the time it's under a dollar."


Tax-Aide has been in operation in Payson for 19 years and has a 97-percent accuracy rate, Stephens said.


The nationwide program began 31 years ago and has served 27 million clients. The national program focuses on helping people 60 years of age and older.


"But here we also have younger people," Stephens said. "We don't ask for anything but last year's tax return and, of course, this year's information."


The Tax-Aide program in Payson will be available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at the Elks Lodge through April 15. Walk-ins are welcome.


In Pine, the program is open from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesdays at Coldwell Banker/Bishop Realty Office. The service in Pine is by appointment only. To make an appointment, call Cherry Brooks at 476-2848.


Online tax counseling is also available by visiting Tax-Aide at: www.aarp.org/taxaide.

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