AARP Tax Aide open letter: Time to start thinking about taxes again

AARP TaxAide

As we approach the end of 2020, it’s time to start thinking about tax return preparation again. 

The 2019 tax season was a most difficult time for our community, in many ways. Taxpayers using the AARP Tax-Aide program but who waited until March to think about their taxes had a particularly rude awakening. The program was prematurely shut down due to Covid19 and Gov. Tom Wolf’s business closure mandates. 

AARP has spent the summer developing several service delivery programs that will allow it to provide its usual free tax service while also making every effort to provide a safe and protected environment for the public and program volunteers. 

The major change that will impact all is that the program will no longer operate as a first come first served walk in program.  The program now has the requirement that all individuals taking advantage of the program MUST make an appointment to meet with TaxAide volunteers. 

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Time to start thinking
AARP Tax Aide volunteers Have helped thousands of taxpayers for almost four decades in Franklin and Fulton counties. The program is free and open to most taxpayers, regardless of age. (FCFP file photo)

This will have two impacts on the program and the taxpayers.  First, there will no longer be long delays, waiting to get your taxes done.  Second, the program may not be able to help as many taxpayers as in the past. 

RELATED: AARP Tax Aides Offer Free Help in Franklin, Fulton Counties

Changes are coming

The most important change is how the taxpayers will get in touch with the program to make an appointment. The new plan is that there will be two ways to make an appointment. 

The first is that the program will have a public accessible internet site that will allow the visitor to pick a site, date and time for an appointment.  For those that are internet savvy, this will be the best method to schedule your visit. 

For those that are not comfortable with the internet, there will be a telephone number to call and a volunteer will work with the taxpayer to schedule their appointment.

In most cases it will require that the taxpayer have two appointments; one for the normal initial interview to review tax information and forms; a second visit to receive and sign the completed tax return. 

This is going to be a significant inconvenience but beyond our control as that is how AARP has designed the new service delivery system. 

We hope to have another article in the paper as we get closer to tax time, but wanted to get you thinking what will be needed this year. 

We know that last year, many did not have their 2019 return completed and will need to have it completed this year.  This will be one of the points you will need to discuss with the volunteer scheduling your appointment; as it will take longer to prepare two returns. 

This will also give you time to find your tax forms for 2019 and 2020.

Locations lined up

The pandemic has caused a number of facilities to close.  We have identified those sites we have used in the past that will be available for program use this year. We have also lined up a temporary site to replace the Greencastle Senior Center and the Waynesboro Knights of Columbus. 

Prior sites at the Chambersburg Recreation Center, and American Legion Post 561 in McConnellsburg should be available.  

The Shady Grove Community Center in Greencastle will replace the Waynesboro and Greencastle centers this coming tax season. 

Our schedule for operation will be: Chambersburg Recreation Center, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; American Legion Post 561 in McConnellsburg, Wednesday; and Shady Grove Community Center, Tuesday and Thursday. 

We anticipate the appointment system will be up and running by mid-January.

We will publish a follow-up article in the newspaper next month; and post information flyers around the community with phone numbers and web site contact information.

We look forward to getting the Chambersburg Tax-Aide program restarted; and providing free tax assistance to the community that we have served for the past 36 years.

…. The AARP Tax Aide program

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