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Wyoming Seniors Catch a Break with Free Tax Help

Filing tax returns on your own can be a challenge, but free tax assistance is available from the AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide program. (Pixabay)
Filing tax returns on your own can be a challenge, but free tax assistance is available from the AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide program. (Pixabay)
March 7, 2017

CHEYENNE Wyo. – W2 and other tax forms are dropping into Wyoming mailboxes, a sure sign that tax season has arrived. For many, income-tax returns are not something to tackle on one's own, and hiring a professional can be costly, especially for people living on a fixed income.

Leanne Whitman, a coordinator with the AARP Foundation's Tax-Aide program in Wyoming, says her team is ready again this year to help people navigate the complexities of filing a return, at no charge.

"It's kind of like they said, 'The only things that are guaranteed in life are death and taxes,'" she said. "And fortunately, for most of the people that we work with, we are either telling them they don't owe taxes or they're getting money back."

Tax-Aide is the nation's largest service for free tax-preparation assistance, and Whitman notes all volunteers are trained and certified through an IRS sponsored program. She adds the volunteers say it's extremely satisfying to see people's faces when they realize they'll be getting a refund.

To find tax help near you, look online at AARP.org/findtaxhelp.

Whitman says this year's April 18th filing deadline will be here before you know it, so it's important to start gathering tax documents: W2s and 1099 forms; 1098s; and the form 1095 that proves you have health insurance, as well as proof of any charitable contributions made last year.

Whitman says you don't need to be an AARP member to get Tax-Aide help, and notes while some are sensitive about sharing personal information, all returns are kept confidential.

"They'll only be a stranger when they first walk in, they'll be a friend when they walk out the door," she added. "We have about 60 volunteers working at 15 sites across the state and they're mostly at senior citizens centers."

Last year nationwide, Tax-Aide provided 2.6 million people with free tax assistance, helping them get more than a billion dollars in refunds and more than $228 million in Earned Income Tax Credits.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY