Help for a Tax-ing situation available

April 15 looms on the calendar as Tax Day. Schedule C-EZ, 1099s, W-2s and Earned Income Tax Credit are just a few of the forms that may be required to file 2004 taxes, along with lots of questions and clarifications.

Help is available to ease the process. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Tax Help at the Community Resource and Recreation Center will be held twice each week through April 15.

Assistance is available on Wednesdays from 1-4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-noon. Appointments are not required, "just show up," George Page, site captain said.

Page has been involved in the tax preparation assistance program at the CRRC for 18 years.

The AARP sponsors the tax preparation and the IRS furnishes three rebuilt computers with software towards the effort. The paperwork and assistance is provided by tax aides, volunteers who are from the Canyon Lake area.

AARP Tax Help is available free for individuals, and small businesses with expenses under $5,000. According to Page, the tax preparation is geared toward individuals in low- to moderate-income tax brackets, under $100,000.

Patrons are screened upon their arrival in Sattler. The screener verifies that all the required forms are present and organizes them for the computer aides. This helps expedite the process for the aide and the individual.

"We don't plan to start a return unless we can finish it," Page said. "Sometimes a return is begun that requires an additional form or information, but that doesn't happen much."

He said the tax returns are completely computerized and then e-filed to a company that specializes in reviewing returns. Once the returns are accepted by the Internal Revenue Service, the return information is deleted from the Tax Help system. Only the patron and the IRS have copies.

"Most people [who utilize Tax Help] are under the impression that information entered in a computer is available world-wide," Page said.

Last year, the tax aides assisted around 270 people, and Page predicts they'll assist around the same number this year.

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