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No-cost tax aid available

Rhonda
costa-landers
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Gil Yanuck, AARP district coordinator for Carson Valley, left, and Frank Furnari, AARP area coordinator talk about AARP's free tax service on Monday at the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.
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If you’re worried about filing taxes, don’t like the paperwork involved and would just rather hand over the duty to someone else, now you can – and it’s free if you’re low- to middle-income.

The American Association of Retired Persons has a free tax-aide program available beginning Monday. By appointment only, IRS-certified counselors will help individuals or families file taxes for year 2003.

AARP Area Coordinator Frank Furnari has set up hours at the Carson City Senior Citizens Center and FISH for area residents. Twelve volunteer counselors are working to help make one of life’s sure things a little easier to handle.

“When the client calls to schedule an appointment, we remind them of what to bring,” said Gil Yanuck, AARP district coordinator for the Carson Valley. “It helps resolve most difficulties.”

Items necessary to bring are the W2, SSA1099 (for retirees), 1099R, bank or credit union interest statements, advance income credit, broker’s statements, assets of mutual funds, etc.

To help the filing counselors and clients, a tax counselor will be at the senior center to prescreen material.

“If something is missing, this is the key,” Furnari said. “Then the client has time to locate it.”

Yanuck said most of the filings done with them are basic, and some are itemized.

“We’ve not had anyone bring in the proverbial shoebox, but there have been some brown paper bags,” he said.

The service is designed for low- to middle-income taxpayers and has an emphasis on helping people age 60 and older. Yanuck said income isn’t always a factor accepting a client, but as to the complexity of the return.

“There’s a limit to what we can teach people in two weeks,” he said.

“Cases are determined on a one-by-one basis,” Furnari said. “We have 12 volunteer counselors ready to help.”

“We also push for earned income credit, which is a great tax credit for the low-income,” Yanuck said.

“Those with low income, with or without children and getting support from state or federal programs can get up to $4,000 in return.”

Furnari and Yanuck also recommend electronic filing.

“There are nothing but benefits to e-filing,” Yanuck said. “No. 1 is accuracy. The return is checked by the counselor using computer software, by the center and by the IRS. If there is an error we are notified within 48 hours. Once the error is corrected, the client gets their money back in seven to 10 days. And if they have a valid checking or savings account at a bank or credit union, it can be directly deposited.”

Yanuck also pointed out if a client ends up owing money to the IRS, a direct payment can be made from their checking or savings account on April 15.

The AARP Tax-Aide program assisted about 800 clients last year. Yanuck said they are busy at the first of the filing period, hit a lull, then are busy again near the end of the filing period.

To better prepare for the service, clients are urged to write down questions and bring them along with all information necessary to file their taxes. Counselors do not speak Spanish and encourage a family member who is bilingual to come along.

“About 70 percent of our clients are returns from prior years,” Yanuck said. “And, unfortunately, without bilingual volunteers, many of our Hispanic clients are not getting all the tax credits they qualify for. We looked for volunteers, but there were not available during daytime hours.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION

What: Free AARP Tax-Aide service

When: Feb. 2-April 15, by appointment only

Where: – Carson City: Senior Citizens Center, 911 Beverly Dr. Call 883-0703; Monday from 1-5 p.m. and Wednesdays from 1-7 p.m. Also, at Friends in Service Helping (FISH), 138 E. Long St. Call 882-8448; Saturdays.

– Minden, Douglas County Library, 1625 Library Lane. Call 265-1093 for appointment or information.

– Gardnerville, Douglas County Senior Center, 2300 Meadow Lane. Call 783-6455; Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

– Topaz Ranch Estates South County Sheriff’s Substation, 1470 Albite Road, Wellington. Call (775) 266-1028; weekdays..

– Yerington, Lyon County Library, 20 Nevin Way. Call (775) 463-7910; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

AARP Tax-Aide volunteers can make personal visits to those who are unable to leave their homes.

Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.