Tax prep program seeks local volunteers
PRESQUE ISLE and CARIBOU, Maine — Looking for something interesting, challenging and rewarding to help the Maine cold, dark winter months seem to go just a little faster? Consider joining a team of dedicated AARP Tax-Aide volunteers who prepare and electronically file federal and state income tax returns for low to moderate income taxpayers.
Although the 2019 tax filing season is still months away, the recruitment and orientation of volunteers is done in the fall. Training is in January, with actual return preparation starting in February. Volunteers will be available Tuesdays and Thursdays at the VFW in Caribou and at the University of Maine at Presque Isle on Saturdays. This program is provided totally free of charge to eligible taxpayers.
The popularity of this program with volunteers is evidenced by the fact that many of them continue with the program until health or family issues surface or they decide to become “snowbirds,” according to district coordinator Penny Kern.
The demand for the AARP Tax-Aide program increases each year. Hence, due to both growth and attrition, new volunteers are needed each year. Volunteers of all ages are welcome and do not need to be “of a certain age” or members of AARP.
In addition to tax preparation, many other volunteer opportunities are available. These include greeting taxpayers, trouble-shooting computer and printer problems, assisting with publicity or assuming one of several leadership roles. All volunteers help take away the frustration and stress often associated with income tax preparation.
Once trained, volunteers are asked to commit a minimum of 4 hours per week over the 10-week tax filing season. Many volunteers opt for more. All volunteers are reimbursed on a limited basis for qualified program-related expenses, including mileage.
The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program, offered in conjunction with the IRS, is the nation’s largest free, volunteer-run tax preparation and assistance program. Last spring in Maine, at 65 locations, 286 volunteers met with, answered questions and prepared returns for more than 24,000 Maine taxpayers. In order to continue this service as well as grow, volunteers are needed.