Free AARP tax service applies to all ages, not just seniors

No matter your age, AARP has you covered, at least as far as tax return preparation is concerned.

Each Saturday starting this week and going through April 15, the American Association of Retired Persons will provide free tax return services to individuals and small businesses at the Nolan Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Paula Rak has been volunteering to prepare returns for 16 years and Nancy McQueen has been volunteering for about five years. Both are trained by the IRS and receive updated certification every year due to changes in tax laws.

“I’ve always liked math. It’s easy for me,” Rak said. “I just like helping people out. People feel nervous about doing their taxes or getting audited. They don’t want to get a nastygram from the IRS. They feel comfortable with someone who’s been trained by the IRS that does (the return) for them.”

Since COVID, Rak said the service is by appointment only. Before the pandemic, people would line up and wait hours to be helped. “We tried telling them they could leave and come back, but they wouldn’t leave,” she said.

By having appointments, Rak and McQueen are able to better serve those taking advantage of the program.

Though the service is provided by AARP, people of any age can use it. Rak said the Permanent Fund dividend last year was so large that kids who received it will have to file. The PFD in 2022 was $3,284. They can either file taxes on their own or they can file with their parents.

Rak said the two volunteers average about 150 clients a year, and they’re able to help almost everyone, including small businesses. They can also help deckhands, but not boat owners. They can also do past years’ returns and amended returns.

She also said they’re grateful to the local tax prep services that send clients their way. “If they get a (client with a) simple return, they’ll send them over to us. Most services charge a minimum of $100,” which can be a burden for some people.

Clients need to bring all their tax forms and identification cards on the day of their appointment.

People who want to make an appointment can drop by on Saturdays or they can call Rak at 907-305-0309 or 907-874-3824.


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