AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program Volunteers Go Above and Beyond for Local Seniors

The results of a Zogby Interactive Survey revealed that 56% of Americans describe the tax-filing process as stressful, with 18% of these individuals classifying tax time as “very stressful”. Because of the stress associated with filing taxes the IRS has even published “Six Tips for Reducing Tax-Time Stress” on their website. While these stress reducing techniques certainly offer relief for some people, there are many who find that ensuring their taxes are correctly processed and submitted can be worrisome and traumatic. A large number of these individuals are of the geriatric population.

Consequently, the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program was developed over 40 years ago to offer assistance with this process free of charge. Throughout the history of the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program volunteers have helped nearly 50 million low to moderate income taxpayers, especially seniors, across the country file their taxes; making the program the largest free volunteer-run tax assistance and preparation service.

Locally, 22 volunteers from the Greater St. Cloud Area Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (Lisa J. Braun, Director) worked diligently January thru mid-April at Whitney Senior Center to assist and educate their peers while filing their 2014 tax forms. The RSVP volunteers served nearly 1,900 households during over 2,500 hours of volunteer service. Of local tax forms filed through the St. Cloud AARP Tax-Aide Program this year, total local refunds amounted to $1,191,505.00! (Federal returns totaled $925,838.00 and Minnesota state refunds totaled $265,667.00)

The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program relies heavily on volunteers and their willingness to donate their time and talents to program. The program could not operate without volunteers such as Carlos Lopez, who has been involved for eight years and has contributed 2,367 hours to the program. He says “The thing that keeps me coming back is the satisfaction of being able to get even a little bit of a refund for people that are at the lowest end of the income latter. If I can get them even 50 to 100 dollars for rent credit or a refund on their property tax, it really makes my day.” Carlos also stated “I relish the opportunity to do calculations to go above and beyond what I am required to do to see if I can get more dollars [for the client],even if it is only 14 or 15 dollars more; it is really worthwhile.”

The Greater St. Cloud Area Retired and Senior Volunteer Program is very thankful for the talented individuals that volunteer their time to the AARP Tax-Aide Program and commend their dedication to a program that is crucial for many seniors in our community. Volunteers report that they enjoy helping others and Carlos Lopez said “I am, of course, very serious about the taxes. But, I try to make it light hearted!”

If you are ages 55 or better and you are interested in making a difference in your community please call the RSVP office at (320)255-7295 or visit our website at www.ci.stcloud.mn.us/RSVP.

-Jacquie Willis