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Volunteers help seniors file tax returns

Published: Friday, March 7, 2014 5:27 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:48 p.m. CDT
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(Photo provided)
AARP Tax-Aide Coordinator Bill Decherd helps Linda Lamatsch, of Crystal Lake, file her income taxes. This is Lamatsch's second year taking advantage of the free program offered in Barrington at the Barrington Area Council of Aging office in the Garlands. Last year, Barrington Tax-Aide volunteers served 210 people. The program has been offered at BACOA for more than 10 years now.

GURNEE – With less than two months left to file IRS tax returns, AARP Tax-Aide Coordinator Bill Decherd is reminding low- and moderate-income seniors that it is not too late to ask for assistance.

AARP volunteers are available at Warren-Newport Public Library Meeting Room A, 224 N. O’Plaine Road, from 9 a.m. to noon every Monday and Friday to help seniors with taxes, according to Jan Marsh, head of communications.

“It’s a very popular service,” Marsh said. “Librarians are not available for tax help.”

Decherd has been volunteering with AARP for more than 10 years.

“I really enjoy this,” Dechard said. “I meet some interesting people and hear some interesting stories.”

Barrington Area Council on Aging – a nonprofit organization focused on serving Barrington-area seniors, family caregivers and community members – is hosting the Tax-Aide program from now through April 11 at its office in Barrington.

The program is free to taxpayers with low-to-moderate incomes and appointments are required.

Council spokeswoman Sarah Hoban said the program’s clients increase every year with many taxpayers traveling to the Barrington area by referral.

“It saves people so much money and that’s important for a senior on a fixed income,” Hoban said. “I remember one woman who came in owing a substantial income tax penalty fee. After she worked with Bill, she did not owe money at all and the IRS actually owed her money.”

The 40-year national tax aide program is co-funded by the AARP foundation and the IRS.

Dechard said the assistance is generally for older, retired people with an annual income of $50,000 or less, but the aide program does not discriminate against younger persons or those with a higher income.

With clients traveling from as far as Palatine, Wheaton and Chicago, Dechard fills 10 appointments each day. Each appointment lasts 30 to 45 minutes, Dechard said.

The tax aide volunteers have professional experience ranging from accounting to technology – fitting since Dechard said the IRS is recommending that taxes be filed electronically this year, even donating computers and software to the tax aide program.

Each volunteer is required to pass a yearly exam before providing assistance. The Barrington AARP Tax-Aide site assists an average of 200 people each year.

Clients arrive at their scheduled appointments with a photo ID, proof of their social security number, tax forms, property tax bills and stock transactions, as well as last year’s tax return.

Dechard said most clients are comfortable with filing their tax returns electronically, but he will print a paper return for anyone wishing to file by mail.

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