It is tax season, and people are beginning to file their returns. As you gather your paperwork, do you feel like you could use some help? Or maybe you are in a position to assist others with their returns. Either way, there is good news. The AARP Foundation helps provide the means to receive and recruit Tax-Aide services for the community.
AARP Tax-Aide volunteers have been preparing to assist with tax help since last fall. They are given training materials, and attend workshops to prepare them for testing with the IRS. Although not required, many volunteers have had prior experience. Robilee Atherholt, who is assisting as a Tax-Aide preparer at the South Norfolk Memorial Library location for the first year said, "I took five classes from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., before taking three tests with the IRS."
Those tests include ethics, volunteering, and preparing.
All forms are then double-checked with a Quality Assurance (QA) volunteer, who is required to take an additional 2 tests. MaryAnn Peelman, a QA specialist, also at this location, has been volunteering for 23 years. If she is not here, she is assisting with taxes at the Great Bridge Presbyterian Church. She said, "We can process 40-50 returns a day at that location."
Both volunteers have accounting experience. Many of the volunteers also serve as both preparers and QAs.
If you are interested in receiving tax help, please arrive early to receive your appointment time. One of the taxpayers at the Russell Memorial Library, Beverly Stallings, who has used this service for about five years, said, "This a good service and it is convenient." She arrived at 6:30 a.m. before they open, to get a 1 p.m. appointment. She also mentioned "I wish they did it more than twice a week."
This location is staffed to take about 25 returns per day. When arriving for your appointment, the volunteers ask that you please get there at least 30 minutes before your scheduled time.
At your appointed time, please be prepared, and have all your paperwork ready. Some common items that are missing are social security cards and pension paperwork. If you are itemizing, please bring real estate and personal property forms. Tax-Aide volunteers are not trained to accept military, overseas, out-of-state returns or small businesses with losses.
Russell Memorial Library Site Coordinator Frank Gagnon, has been helping for 21 years. When he began, he said "The program started at a church in Churchland using paper forms." Eventually they started using computers. He would save the files, and would take them to a central computer to upload them via modem. Once Wi-Fi became available at libraries, it was decided it would be a more efficient location for delivering data, until churches could carry it.
Over at the South Norfolk Memorial Library location, Site Coordinator Frank Brothers has volunteered for 15 years. Additionally, he assists at the Great Bridge Presbyterian Church location. Site Coordinators also spend time outside of the location hours to meet the needs of the clients they serve. Providing last year's AARP Tax Production Summaries, he showed their e-files accepted were about 550 at the South Norfolk location, and over 1,000 at Great Bridge.
Libraries are great hosts for the AARP Tax-Aide Program. Russell Memorial Library Manager Lynn Holcomb, who's held that position for three years, says, "The Tax-Aide program has been offered here at this location for about 10 years."
She said other library services that may be of interest to AARP members are audio and e-books, which can be downloaded to a tablet, smartphone or computer. Books are also available in large print. Book discussions and knitting/crocheting groups are offered. They can also help with genealogy and ancestry research.
The South Norfolk Memorial Library Manager, Clyde Hunter, Jr., who has been in that position for 12 years, said "I am grateful to AARP for helping the elderly, and those with special needs."
He said he is always interested in hearing about partnerships with the community. He said a new partnership beginning in May, called "SOHO Market at the Gateway" would be of interest to AARP members. This partnership will provide fresh produce for sale. It will be held on Sundays near the library's parking lot. Another program offered is a support group for grandparents, who often take on the role of parenting their grandkids. He said they meet once a month. You can contact the libraries directly for more info.
Being a Tax-Aide volunteer during the tax season is a good way to be involved, helping clients, and those in need, to save money. The Chesapeake Libraries, and the AARP Foundation, are looking to expand the service to other library locations. However, they are in need of more help. Site Coordinators, preparers and QAs are needed. If you have accounting, tax, or similar experience, they can still use your assistance for this tax season. Pease contact Frank Gagnon via email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have no experience, you can start your training next fall.
Here are the locations, hours and contact info if you are in need of assistance:
Russell Memorial Library
2808 Taylor Road
Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Closed Friday, March 13
South Norfolk Memorial Library
801 Poindexter Street
Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Closed Friday, March 13 and unavailable Saturday, March 14
Great Bridge Presbyterian Church
333 Cedar Road
Tuesday and Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
4934 High Street West
Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Meyera E. Oberndorf Library
4100 Virginia Beach Boulevard
Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Workforce Development Center
157 North Main
Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For additional tax sites call: 1-888-AARPNOW (1-888-227-7669) or use the online Tax-Aide site locator tool.
Funding for this program is provided by the AARP Foundation, which help with paper forms, instruction books and rules.