AARP offers free tax preparation services for most taxpayers

Published 12:18 am Sunday, January 20, 2019


NATCHEZ — Tax season is upon us.

If you have not already received a W2 from your employer they have until Jan. 31 to get one to you.

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Once you have your W2 in hand you have until April 15 to file your tax returns, and experts recommend not missing the deadline, as the penalties likely are more expensive than any taxes you might owe.

If you are not comfortable filing your own tax returns, never fear, plenty of services are available, including online do-it-yourself services available for a fee or numerous professional tax return services.

If you cannot afford to pay for a tax service, the AARP offers a free tax preparation service that is available to most taxpayers in the Natchez, Adams County area, organizer John Kerwin said.

“The service is available basically to almost anyone,” Kerwin said. “We are not doing farming income or personal business income, or if you have a lot of stocks and bonds. We also are not doing taxes for people with a lot of real properties.”

Kerwin said his team of four volunteers, including him, eliminates such filers in order to be able to help as many tax filers as possible.

Kerwin and his team will begin offering the free tax return services from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. starting Feb. 6 at Natchez George W. Armstrong Library, 220 S Commerce St., Natchez, and the service will continue at the same time and place every Wednesday through April 10.

The AARP volunteers also are offering three additional days tax preparation days in February — from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Feb. 11, 18 and 25, Kerwin said.

Items people should bring with them, Kerwin said, are any tax documents from the previous year’s filing, and the following forms for the current tax year: W2; 1098; 1099 for Social Security filing; 1095 for the affordable care act showing how much you paid out each month.

In addition, Kerwin said filers should bring a picture identification card, a Social Security card with the Social Security number or a 1099 form with the Social Security number.

Kerwin said the AARP has been offering the free tax preparation service since 1968, and he has been involved as a volunteer since the 1980s, originally as a greeter but now as a tax preparer.

Kerwin said AARP requires two tax preparers to sign off on each filing, including one to prepare the tax return and another to look over it and double check it.

Kerwin said the volunteers also could submit the returns electronically on site for filers who would like that service.

Last year, Kerwin said, the AARP volunteers helped 120 federal tax filers in Natchez and 69 for state tax returns. Kerwin said the difference in the numbers is because some retired people do not have to file federal income taxes, only state returns.

“The total amount of refunds,” Kerwin said of last year, “was a little over $90,000. The total (taxes) paid was $7,600. This service is free, no cost to the individuals.”

Kerwin said he anticipates the AARP volunteers will help approximately 150 filers this year.

“Every Wednesday through April 10, we hope to help 15 to 16 people per day,” Kerwin said. “We added some additional days in February — Feb. 11, 18, 25.”

While the local volunteers are set for this year’s services, Kerwin said he would like to identify volunteers for next year.

“If you would like to volunteer or know someone who would like to volunteer, please contact the AARP volunteers at the library for more information,” Kerwin said. “If you have questions, you are welcome to stop by the library while the volunteers are there. The service is based on volunteers. If there are no volunteers, the service might go away.”