Free service can eliminate taxing time

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Shelly Birkelo
Sunday, January 19, 2014

JANESVILLE—Tax time is here again, and as the U.S. tax code becomes more complicated,  the average person can find it hard to understand.

To help ease the stress of this annual process, the AARP Tax-Aide Foundation, in conjunction with the IRS, will provide IRS-certified volunteers to aid people in getting all the tax credits and deductions they deserve at no cost.

Here's what taxpayers need to know, said Roger Swenson, tax counselor.

1. Who can take advantage of this free service? Low- to moderate-income taxpayers 60 and older.

2. When can taxes be prepared? During February through April 15. Appointments can be made now. Walk-ins also are scheduled during these weeks at some Green County locations listed below.

3. Where will tax preparation take place? 

-- Beloit--Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Grinnell Hall, 631 Bluff St., and Tuesdays at the Beloit Public Library, 605 Eclipse Blvd. Call 608-364-2875.

-- Delavan--Wednesdays at the Community Center, 826 E. Geneva St. Call 262-472-9632.

-- Elkhorn--Tuesdays and Thursdays at Peoples Bank, 837 N. Wisconsin St. Call 262-472-9632.

-- Evansville--Wednesdays, Feb. 26 and March 26, at Creekside Place, 102 Maple St. Call 608-822-0407.

-- Janesville--Tuesdays and Thursdays at Janesville Senior Center, 69 S. Water St. Call 608-755-3040.

-- Milton--Fridays at The Gathering Place, 715 Campus St. Call 608-868-3500.

-- Whitewater--Wednesdays at Starin Park Senior Center, 504 W. Starin Road. Call 262-473-0535.

-- Brodhead—Mondays from 9 a.m. to noon starting Feb. 3 at the Brodhead Public Library, 1207 25th St., for walk-in appointments.

-- Albany—Fridays, Feb. 7 and 21 and March 14 and 28, from 9 a.m. to noon at Albany Village Hall, 206 N. Water St., for walk-in appointments.

-- Monroe—Wednesdays at Monroe Behring Senior Center, 1113 10th St. Call 608-325-3173.

-- New Glarus—Friday, March 7, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Sugar River Branch of New Glarus Bank, 1101 Highway 69 South, for walk-in appointments.

4. What should I bring? Social Security cards, photo identification or driver's license for yourself and all dependents; a copy of last year's income tax returns; W-2 forms; 1099 forms plus other income and expense items and your property tax bill or rent certificate if you are a homestead-eligible taxpayer.

More clients are expected to seek this free service this year, Swenson said.

In 2009, local volunteers prepared 1,900 returns in Rock and Walworth counties. That number grew to 2,030 returns in 2011, 2,081 in 2012 and 2,100 in 2013, he said.

“We're going to easily go over 2,300 (returns this year),” Swenson said, of the 60 volunteers.

The service is important because the goal of the IRS and Department of Revenue is to have tax returns filed electronically to speed up the process and get folks their refunds more quickly, he said.

The problem, Swenson said, “is older folks aren't as computer literate as they need to be to pop a tax return out of the computer because many don't have a computer and don't buy Turbo Tax because they don't know how to use it. So they depend on paid tax preparers or volunteer preparers to help them out.”

People who go to an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide site don't have to deal with a kiosk or go online. They will get personal attention until their taxes are completed, and their  forms will be transmitted directly to the IRS, Swenson said.

 “Due to the late decisions in Congress that have caused computer update delays at the IRS, we are requesting that for the first week, you schedule simple returns such as Homesteads,” he said.

AARP Foundation tax aid volunteers are IRS-certified and trained each year, he said.

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