Letter to the Editor: Another tax season behind us

The Chambersburg AARP Tax Aide program has completed another tax season.

This year due to the pandemic, we were challenged with many changes to the program. Besides Law changes, we were not allowed in-person training.

Walk-ins were no longer allowed; and we had to change to an appointment system. We were limited to two 15 minute face-to-face meetings; and we had to scan all documents used by our counselors.

READ: AARP Tax Aides: Tax volunteers ready to go

On top of that, we had to suspend operations at three of our regular sites due to access and scheduling issues caused by the Covid19; and the tax preparation season was extended to May 14.

Our most frustrating problem was making appointments. We only had three phone lines with limited staff to man them, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. This was most frustrating for our clients trying to connect with a scheduler. We are working on getting additional lines for the appointment staff.

We are most fortunate to have a flexible, diverse team that met each of these challenges; enabling us to have a much better season than anticipated.

Another tax season
TAX TIME: An AARP volunteer mans a telephone to take appointments from Franklin County residents needing help with their taxes. The AARP Tax Aide program will operate by appointment only this year. (Submitted Photo)

Quick summary: Impact on community

As in past letters, a quick summary shows the impact and importance of this program to our community.

With all the challenges we faced, our local Tax Aide program processed over 2,100 returns with a total net refund to the community in excess of $2.4 million dollars, (without any cost to its clients).

We were able to set up three sites, American Legion Post 561 in McConnellsburg , the Chambersburg Recreation Center and the Shady Grove Community Center.

Due to Covid19 we were not able to use the Greencastle Senior Center, the Waynesboro Knights of Columbus post or American Legion Post 46 in Chambersburg.

We would like to extend our sincere appreciation and thanks to the Post Commander American Legion Post 561, the Shady Grove Community Center Board of Directors and the Chambersburg Director of Parks and Recreation and her amazing staff.

Looking ahead to next year

We are not sure what the program will look like next year and/or how it will operate; but we know we will be back.

Besides McConnellsburg and the Recreation Center, this fall we will work with our staff and local communities to determine which sites we will be able to operate.

We will continue with the appointment system; and hope we will be able to have more than just three phone numbers for scheduling appointments.

And, we hope to return to our old method of providing service; that is, client and counselor meeting face to face for the duration of the return preparation process.

Our sincere thanks to the community for it’s patience and understanding and to our wonderful staff of volunteers for being so flexible and dedicated.

Robert Snyder, AARP Tax Aide District Coordinator
Roger Schwalm, Chambersburg Coordinator
Deb Hallock, McConnellsburg Coordinator
Ron Gipe, Shady Grove Coordinator