Free tax assistance

Free income tax return preparation and electronic filing, for both state and federal returns, will once again be available this year for Mountain Area residents, offered by the AARP Tax-Aide program.

Tax returns are prepared by specially trained and certified volunteers. The returns are prepared on site, and then electronically filed the same day.

Tax help is offered to persons of all ages - you don’t have to be a senior citizen, or a member of AARP to use the service. Last year, Tax Aide prepared first tax returns for several 17 and 18-year-old students who had their first jobs. Services are provided free of all costs and charges.

This year the program is moving from the Sierra Senior Center, where it has always been hosted, to the Community Room at the Oakhurst Library. Services will be available Tuesdays between Feb. 10 and April 7. Three Saturdays are also available, Feb. 28, March 21 and April 11, to make the services more accessible for families and working adults.

For the first time, there will also be a day of services offered in North Fork, at the Studio, on Feb. 21.

Appointments for all of these dates and locations can be made by calling Brian at (559) 285-1494.

The program has been headed locally by Jerry Ephraim for more than 25 years. Ephraim is presently serving as regional coordinator for California District 3, a large area which extends from Modesto in the north to Bakersfield in the south, and from San Jose and Monterey in the west to Sonora and Barstow in the east.

Although the day to day coordination of the program in the Mountain Area is coordinated by Darlene Kelly, Ephraim will be present on most return preparation days in Oakhurst to lend a hand and to meet and greet his long-time clients.

AARP Tax-Aide is the nation’s largest free, volunteer-run tax assistance and preparation service available to taxpayers with low and moderate income, with special attention to those age 60 and older. Over 33,000 AARP Tax-Aide volunteers, trained in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), now help over 2 million taxpayers file their federal, state, and local tax returns each year at nearly 7,000 AARP Tax-Aide sites nationwide.

- AARP Tax-Aide