Program offers free tax preparation to residents in Three Rivers area

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published February 28, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated February 27, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Curt Youngblood

Olan Thompson, right, helps Glen and Gladys Tucker prepare their taxes at Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Cabot. The Tuckers are taking advantage of the AARP Tax-Aide program, which provides free tax assistance.

With tax season upon us, many Arkansans who aren’t able to hire someone to do their taxes have access to cost-free options in their communities.

Multiple locations are open in the Three Rivers area to offer free tax-preparation service geared toward Arkansans with low incomes and senior citizens.

Every tax season, the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program offers free, individualized tax preparation for low- to moderate-income taxpayers, especially those 60 and older, at nearly 6,000 locations nationwide, the AARP website states. The program has been in place for more than 40 years.

The Horseshoe Bend Library is an AARP tax site. Ken Buttry has been preparing taxes at the library for eight years.

Buttry said although the programs are geared toward people who are over 60 and have a low income, those qualifications are not absolute.

In addition to the AARP Tax-Aide program, the Internal Revenue Service has its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program in place, which provides free basic income-tax-return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.

The IRS website states that the VITA program generally offers free tax help to people who make $51,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their tax returns.

Jim Thompson, the site coordinator at Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Cabot, said this is his 19th year to be with the AARP Tax-Aide program. He said the Cabot site sees about 30 to 35 tax returns in one day.

“We have three tax-preparing volunteers, and they do about 10 returns a day,” Thompson said.

Thompson said it is important to have this service available, and it can save people about $100 by having their taxes done by volunteers.

The Tax-Aide program has been a way for Thompson to give back to the community since he retired.

“It gives me something to do,” Thompson said. “It’s a way to reach out.”

Last year, the IRS issued nine out of 10 refunds to taxpayers in less than 21 days, and the same results are expected for 2013, according to the IRS website.

More information on finding an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide center near you is available at www.aarp.org. Information on finding a VITA site can be found at www.irs.gov.

Staff Writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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