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BEACON Senior News

Are your taxes too taxing?

Do you feel overwhelmed by the DIY paperwork, the April 15 deadline and the expense of paying a tax preparer? Tax-Aide volunteers have been undergoing mandatory IRS training for the upcoming tax season since November, as they do each year. This month they begin taking appointments at various El Paso County locations. Read on to see if they’re a good fit for you.

Q: What is the AARP Tax-Aide Program? 

A: The AARP Tax-Aide Program offers free electronic filing and preparation of federal and state income tax returns, with an emphasis on helping seniors with low and moderate incomes. The program is staffed by IRS-certified volunteers. Every return is reviewed by two certified, trained preparers to ensure accuracy. Counselors are all certified at an advanced level. Not all preparers in similar programs have this level of training.

Q: Who can use the program? 

A: The program is funded by the AARP Foundation, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and grants. Filers pay nothing themselves for this service, and their returns, both federal and state, are filed electronically at no charge.
AARP membership is not required, and there are no age restrictions. Their patrons typically have an adjusted gross income of less than $35,000, but simple returns with higher incomes can also be done.

Q: Why should I consider using Tax-Aide? 

A: People tell Tax-Aide they often pay $300 or more annually for someone to prepare their return. Tax-Aide charges nothing for their services. Some people may say they’re getting free help already, or they can do it themselves. It’s advised that you see a different trained certified preparer every four years. An incorrect return can be amended for up to three years after it was first due to be filed. This free program can help you see if your return is being done correctly. Compare it to previous years and make corrections, if any, while you still can.

Q: Are there tasks Tax-Aide can’t do? 

A: Tax-Aide’s expertise is limited to specific tasks for which volunteers are trained. They do not handle depreciation schedules, real estate rentals, businesses with payroll or perpetual inventories, and farms/ranches (unless it involves a simple, unimproved land lease). The service aims to assist as many people as possible, with typical returns taking 60 to 90 minutes in a face-to-face setting. 

Q: What might a typical tax return cover?

A: A typical tax return handled by Tax-Aide might include Social Security payments, IRAs, income from pensions and annuities (Form 1099-R), interest, dividends, capital gains and unemployment. Some returns may also have W-2 income, education credits, earned income credit or capital loss carryovers. It’s important to note that each tax return is unique, and the list provided is not comprehensive.

Q: I’m on Social Security and usually don’t owe any income tax. Should I file anyway?

A: They encourage everyone to file, even if they don’t owe any income tax. This year, almost all full-year Colorado residents who file will qualify for an $800 TABOR refund. But you will need to file a return to get that refund. Also, filing a return reduces the incidence of identity theft since your return will already be on file, and the IRS will block any attempt to file a return with the same identifying information.

Q: When are Tax-Aide volunteers available to look at my returns? Do I need an appointment? 

A: Yes, appointments are required and slots fill up quickly. The hours at most Tax-Aide preparation sites are between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.  See below for details.

Tax-Aide Locations

Make an appointment early! Appointments typically fill up by the end of February. 

Divine Redeemer Church

926 Farragut Ave.

11 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays & Wednesdays 

February 5-April 15

For an appointment, call 719-633-5559

Westside Community Center

1628 W. Bijou St.

9 a.m.-1 p.m. Mondays & Thursdays

February 5-April 15

For an appointment, call 719-749-6138

Envoy Church

2025 N. Murray Blvd.

9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mondays & Tuesdays

February 5-April 15

For an appointment, call 719-358-1680

Library 21c

1175 Chapel Hills Drive

9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays & Thursdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays

February 6- April 11

For an appointment, call 719-235-6757

Silver Key Senior Services

1655 S. Murray Blvd.

9 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday & Thursday

February 7-April 11

For an appointment, call 719-726-6876 or visit

Mt. Carmel Veterans Center

530 Communication Circle

9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Wednesdays

February 6-April 10

For an appointment, call 719-772-7000

Cheyenne Mountain Library

1785 S. 8th St.

For an appointment, call 719-531-6333, x7001

Fountain Valley Senior Center

5725 Southmoor Drive, Fountain

8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Wednesdays

February 6-April 11

For an appointment, call 719-508-2629 or email [email protected]

Mountain View United Methodist Church

1101 Rampart Range Road
Woodland Park

12:30-5 p.m. Wednesdays

February 6-April 10

For an appointment, call 719-314-5686