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AARP program offers preparation assistance

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
January 9, 2008
— Preparing your tax return can be a nerve-wracking, mind boggling, tear-your-hair-out experience for most.

That’s why, oftentimes, people seek the advice of professionals—accountants and other trained tax preparers—for help.


Fortunately, those who live in Rock or Walworth counties are able to tap into the knowledge of AARP-trained tax consultants. The consultants are available at five sites in either county.


Tax preparation starts the first week of February and continues through April 15.


Hour-long appointments can be made starting Jan. 14 and are necessary. (See sidebar).


During 2006, local AARP tax consultants helped more than 1,000 clients in Rock County and filed 975 of those returns electronically. They also served 400 clients in Walworth County and filed 93 of those returns electronically, said Allen Birmingham, AARP Wisconsin District 1 coordinator.


Those scheduling appointments should bring their last year’s tax return, said Birmingham, who answered these questions:


-- Who qualifies for AARP free (donations accepted) tax preparation?


We do not accept donations, but our clients may donate to the tax site host to cover the expenses for copies and any office supplies. Last year, we were told $1,263 was donated to the Janesville Senior Center from the Tax Aide program.


We do most all-personal income tax except married filing separately or taxes involving rents or royalties. There are no restrictions for age or income level.


-- What are the most common questions you get asked?


“When will I get my refund?”


-- What are the most common mistakes people make?


Not waiting for all of their income statements to come, which results in filing an amended return when the statements do come.


When filing for Wisconsin Homestead credit, bringing the receipt for paying their property tax rather than the original bill.


Coming to the tax site without an appointment.


-- What is the best piece of advice you have for elderly tax filers?


Keep records. One of our biggest problems is determining the cost basis for capital gains. This is especially true when stock has been owned for several years and the dividends have been automatically reinvested.


-- What papers should be brought to the appointment?


W2 form if employed or GM retiree;


Interest statements (Form 1099 INT);


Dividend statements (Form 1099 DIV);


Capital gain summaries (Form 1099B);


Social Security statement (Form SSA 1099);


Property tax bill or rent receipt if filing for Wisconsin Homestead credit;


A receipt for all donations if itemizing;


Medical and dental expenses including health insurance.


Where to go

This year’s tax sites in Rock and Walworth counties are:


-- Grinnell Hall in Beloit


631 Bluff St.


Phone: (608) 364-2875


-- The Janesville Senior Center


69 S. Water St.


Phone: (608) 755-3040


-- The Gathering Place


715 Campus St., Milton


Phone: (608) 868-3500


-- Starin Park Senior Center


504 W. Starin Road, Whitewater


Phone: (262) 473-0535


-- Peoples Bank Elkhorn


837 N. Wisconsin St., Elkhorn


Phone: (262) 472-9632



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