Free Tax Preparation at the Library: the Who, What, and When
By Don Bryson, Library Coordinator for AARP Tax-Aide
Since 2005, the Estes Valley Library has hosted the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide services. The program is staffed by local volunteers who train in tax law and certify with the IRS. A team of 21 volunteers are now helping people, by appointment, to complete their Federal and Colorado returns. The Library partners by dedicating space, scheduling appointments and providing information to those using the service.
What can the Tax-Aide Service do for you?
The program’s foremost objective is to serve the elderly and low income; however, no one is turned away unless their return requires elements that fall outside the scope defined by both the IRS the AARP Foundation. Returns with most basic forms of income are permitted. We are also able to do itemized deductions and most all credits, both those categorized as non-refundable and refundable, including reconciliation of Premium Tax Credits received for healthcare insurance obtained from Connect for Colorado.
Clearly, this is a comprehensive service for most people in our community. However, we are not allowed to do residential rental income, any property depreciation, estate or trust returns, and any out-of-state returns.
How can you get this service?
Visit the Library to make an appointment, or call the Library at 970-586-8116, extension 3: Click Here for More Information. There are consent forms to sign, and you’ll receive an intake packet to complete beforehand. On appointment day, you’ll also need to bring your photo IDs, all Social Security or ITIN cards (no Medicare cards this year), all tax forms you’ve received, and documentation to support deductions. An organized compilation and totaling of such expenses beforehand will facilitate the preparation of your return.
What’s new in taxes this year?
1) The 1040 form has been revised: there is no longer a 1040A or 1040EZ.
2) While the Standard Deductions have significantly increased, both personal and dependent exemptions have been eliminated. This change balances out fairly close to the previous scheme for most taxpayers.
3) Self-employed taxpayers will see new benefits including a Qualified Business Expense Credit and the ability to lower income with Healthcare Premium adjustments, rather than itemizing them.
4) The graduated tax brackets have changed, resulting in lower rates for similar income as last year.
In 2018, nearly 400 local returns were completed. The Tax-Aide volunteers donate a large amount of their time in preparing for tax season, not because they love taxes, but because it’s a service so appreciated by the kind members of our mountain community. Give the Library a call if you qualify for this service, or are interested in joining our spirited team of volunteers yourself.