Volunteers offer help with returns for seniors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2003

The volunteers are all busy. They’re hunting through the files, going over the numbers, or plugging the numbers into the computer. As they progress, the expressions on the clients’ faces become more relaxed. Soon, thanks to the American Association for Retired Persons (A.A.R.P.), their tax returns are filed for another year.

A.A.R.P. income tax aides have been helping people older than 60, as well as low-income individuals, file their tax returns for about 15 years, said Iris Tarvestad, who is coordinating the program locally.

Those who volunteer to help others file their tax returns take an intensive week of training, followed by a very difficult test, she said.

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Six trained volunteers currently help out, Tarvestad added.

&uot;These volunteers are great,&uot; she said. &uot;They work so hard.&uot;

Tax aides are available at the Albert Lea Senior Citizens Center from 1-3:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday until April 15. Appointments are necessary, and people can call 373-0704 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to schedule one. They also file returns on Friday at Senior Tower, Senior Court, Shady Oaks, Channel View Apartments and Crest Home.

People need to bring their 2002 Social Security benefits statement SSA 1099, a copy of last year’s 2001 refund return, their 2002 Minnesota State Property Tax return, their 2002 Certificate of Rent Paid, and all records of 2002 income, including interest, dividends and pensions.

The aides offer services for income taxes, rent and property tax credits. It is a free service, and people don’t have to be members of the senior citizens’ center to receive the service. &uot;We don’t do business, farm or out-of-state returns,&uot; she said.

Property tax credits will be done on April 10 only.

The aides have all the necessary forms, Tarvestad said, and this year are able to file electronically. Appointments generally last from 30 to 45 minutes, she added.

All information obtained from clients is confidential, Tarvestad said.