The virtual service is being offered as an alternative to AARP Foundation Tax-Aide’s traditional in-person services, which were suspended at the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and which remain on hold until further notice. Although Tax-Aide provides free tax preparation and filing services to all taxpayers, many of its clients are over 65 — a group considered by health experts to be at higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19.
In addition to the online offering, Tax-Aide will provide alternative services that have in-person components. These will be available at a limited number of Tax-Aide sites, by appointment only and with protective measures in place.
A modified in-person service, based on the traditional Tax-Aide preparation model, incorporates adjustments to make it safe for volunteers and taxpayers. Availability of this service is dependent on health data trends for U.S. state and counties, host site restrictions, and the number of volunteers who are able to staff the site. A virtual service is also available with some in-person assistance.
Taxpayers who used AARP Foundation Tax-Aide in 2019 received $1.4 billion in income tax refunds and more than $200 million in earned income tax credits (EITCs). They also avoided any tax preparation fees and pitches for high-interest tax credit or refund loans.
“The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on older adults’ finances, especially those with low income,” said Lynnette Lee-Villanueva, vice president of the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program. “For more than 50 years, we’ve helped lower-income taxpayers file their taxes through Tax-Aide, and in that time, we've seen how even modest refunds can be a lifeline for older adults struggling to make ends meet.”
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is the nation’s largest volunteer-run free tax preparation service. The program is offered in conjunction with the IRS, and AARP membership is not required. Volunteers are trained and IRS-certified every year to ensure they understand the latest changes to the U.S. Tax Code.
As the coronavirus pandemic evolves, AARP Foundation and its community partners continue to assess whether the Tax-Aide program can open any of its in-person sites for the remainder of the tax season, which has been extended to July 15. The health and safety of program volunteers and taxpayers remains AARP Foundation’s top priority, and any decisions about re-opening will be made with that in mind.
Visit aarpfoundation.org/taxaide or call 1-888-AARPNOW (1-888-227-7669) for more information.
About AARP Foundation: AARP Foundation works to end senior poverty by helping vulnerable older adults build economic opportunity and social connections. As AARP’s charitable affiliate, we serve AARP members and nonmembers alike. Bolstered by vigorous legal advocacy, we spark bold, innovative solutions that foster resilience, strengthen communities and restore hope.