Volunteers help ease pain of tax season

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Have you heard about AARP's Tax-Aide program? It's a free service, provided by volunteers for the benefit of low and middle income taxpayers, with special attention given to those who are 60 years of age or older.

As most senior citizens know, AARP stands for the American Association of Retired Persons. It is the largest organization in the United States for those 50 and over, and through AARP's involvement, the Tax-Aide program is the nation's largest, free tax counseling and preparation service.

We're bringing all this to your attention because the AARP Tax-Aide program is available in this area. Starting Thursday evening, Jan. 29, volunteers will be on hand at the McCook Public Library to assist seniors and low income individuals needing help with their taxes.

The volunteer counselors in McCook are Lee Petsch, John Grill and John Smith. "I've been doing this for 22 years," Petsch said. "It is a very needed service and we are more than willing to help in any way we can."

Those wishing to receive tax assistance are asked to be at the library between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday evenings between now and the April 15 filing deadline.

Also, this year for the first time, John Smith will be available to offer tax services at the McCook Library from between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturdays. By volunteering, John is following a family tradition as his mother, Bev Smith, provides tax counseling service in Cambridge. To arrange an appointment, those needing assistance with taxes in the Cambridge area may call Mrs. Smith at 308-697-3120.

If the McCook or Cambridge tax counseling sites are not convenient, you can call AARP to find out about other Tax-Aide sites. The number to call is 1-888-AARPNOW (or 1-888-227-7669). That toll-free number will start accepting calls Feb. 1, and will remain active until April 15.

Information is also available on the American Association of Retired Persons' Web site. The Web address is www.aarp.org/taxaide. The site is available for year-around assistance.

The Tax-Aide program is administered through the AARP Foundation in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service. Taxes can be confusing for all of us, and any help we can get is greatly appreciated.

Our hats are off to the AARP for providing this valuable service, and to the local citizens who volunteer their services free of charge. If you can use tax assistance, make it a point to see Lee Petsch, John Grill, John Smith, Bev Smith or any of the other AARP volunteers who generously donate their time.

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