Seniors Volunteer To Help With Taxes

Staring at your 1040's and receipts, even a brave soul can get a bit nervous. Jim Hardy and the other volunteers working at the Tyler Public Library understand your frustration.

"Some of these forms and the way they're worded," Jim admits, "it's not too easy to follow, you have to read them two or three times sometimes."

For those who may need some help getting their taxes together, AARP offers free assistance at the library.

"We're primarily to help the older people," Jim says, "But we don't turn anyone down, and they're very appreciative and we get a lot of repeat customers."

Since tax laws change every year, the volunteers study for several days and take a ten hour test to get certified on what's new.

"There's a retirement investment credit that's new," Jim explains, "Your exemption amounts and your standard deduction amounts have all changed because of the inflation factor in there, and there's a few little changes like that that they've made."

"It does seem like it gets more complicated," he admits.

AARP expects to help over fifteen hundred people, people who probably had nowhere else to go for help.

"If it weren't for us they'd be having to go to a paid preparer," explains District Coordinator Betty Plunk. "A lot of them can't afford it, and the cost would offset any refund they could get."

So with this arrangement, the clients get free assistance. And for the retired volunteers, they benefit as well.

"This helps me keep up with the new tax laws," Jim says. "and I think it kind of helps keep my mind alert and you get a sense of accomplishment by helping these people."

Its a transaction that pays dividends to both parties, with no exemptions.

The Tyler Public Library hosts the service Monday through Thursday from three-thirty until six, and Friday and Sunday from two until four-thirty. There is no assistance on Saturday. In Longview, help is given at the library on Tuesdays and Thursdays from four until seven, and Saturdays from ten to two.

For more information, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

Reid Kerr ( reporting.