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AARP offers free tax service for community members in need of help

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - 2024 tax season is here, and many are getting ready to turn in their returns. While, many of us may not be experts ensuring our taxes are set to go, there are ways to get help.

"You shouldn't have to pay somebody different to figure out how much to pay the government. We are pretty proud of the fact that we're error free tax returns," said Charles Brooks, the District Coordinator for the AARP Foundation in Idaho Falls.

The AARP has been providing tax help for a number of years, and Brooks says they help prepare 4,000 tax returns per year.

"We don't turn anybody away. But we're also not trying to compete with with paid preparers," Brooks said.

This year, they've already helped 1,400 people prepare their tax returns. Brooks sid he and his fellow volunteers are proud to help people prepare accurate returns and at no cost to those who need the help.

"It's just a community service that we provide," Brooks said.

Beverly Hunter and CJ Dietz share how they have been using the free service AARP provides for years. Beverly says she keeps coming back to use the service becuase of the people.

"Their kindness, their proficiency. I have nothing to worry about because I know that they know what they're doing, and they will take care of my needs. I get the people hopefully when we get returns, we get it back promptly. And if I have to pay, I know that it's a wonderful community thing because they just take care of us. It's it's great," Hunter said.

Dietz said he enjoys that it's free and while he has used other tax preparation services in the past, he prefers AARP's help.

"And another time I did H&R Block, but found out that it was better to come here as I got the exact same service," Dietz said.

Hunter and Dietz also reccomend the service for others.

Brooks sid they try to make sure the can help people take advantage of credits they are eligible for.

"We we see a number of people that who come in who have prepared the returns in the past. And we see a surprisingly large number of errors where people have not done their returns correctly and they've given up major credits. We see tax returns that we've amended where there first thousands of dollars that they should have claimed they did not. So so we all amend those returns," Brooks said.

AARP provides a free software and experienced volunteers who are able to help them move forward in their preparation.

If you are wanting help preparing your tax return, Brooks says people can walk-in, and if they have every document they need, they can help them or they can call a head and get an appointment.

"They need to bring in their Social Security cards. They need to bring in all their income documents. And we again, insist on accurate returns. What one thing we do that other prepaid preparers probably do not do is we insist on a second independent review of all returns. So it's easy to make a mistake, transpose a number or something like that. But when we get that second review that the independent review, then we really can brag and I would say close to 100% accuracy," Brooks said.

You can call 208-528-8887 to schedule an appointment. The program is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. 

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8.


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