Free tax assistance program returns to York County

For more than 20 years, the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program has helped York County receive free tax assistance.

"You don't have to pay somebody $100 to $200 to $300 to do this," said Ray Quickel, the program's district coordinator for York County.

He said people like to come so they can sit down in front of a person and ask questions. It helps them think about things they might not have considered.

"It alleviates the worry for them," he said.

More:5 things small business owners should know about tax bills

The free service is available for all ages, though the program gives preference to adults age 50 and older, he said.

"Doing taxes is probably not at the top of people's (list of) fun things to do," Quickel said. "They feel good that (their taxes are) completed and done correctly." 

Program: The program sees a lot of low-income individuals who might not be able to afford a paid service, he continued, but it does not have any income limits.

Quickel said the program did about 3,200 tax returns in the county last year.

"We'd like to increase that by 10 percent this year," he said. 

The Internal Revenue Service supplies the program's tax software, and when AARP bought new software last year, Quickel said it was hard to get volunteers up to speed in time for tax season.

Attendance dropped by about 6 percent that year, but he anticipates it will be back up this year and continue to grow.

He said volunteers have had to turn away clientele in the past because there were not enough appointment slots. 

The program is volunteer-operated, and about 70 people assisted last year. Quickel said having an accounting or financial background is not required. 

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide has a thorough two-week training for volunteers — which makes them IRS-certified — and they have included people from many different backgrounds, many of them retired school teachers and businesspeople.

Quickel hopes to have at least 80 volunteers this year across 14 locations throughout the county. 

GOP tax plan: The GOP tax reform plan, which passed in Congress Dec. 20 and was signed into law by President Donald Trump Dec. 22, says most people will have a one-page tax return next year. 

More:It's a done deal: Congress wraps up massive tax package

But Quickel doesn't believe the changes will make taxes any easier.

"From what I've seen, it is not simplification," he said.

It will be different, he continued, so it's a matter of learning what's changed.

Appointments: The tax service will be available from Feb. 1 to April 17.

Each person needs to bring a photo ID and proof of Social Security or ITIN numbers for anyone on the tax return, including children or other claimed dependents, according to a news release.

Bringing the previous year's tax return is also encouraged.

Volunteers are trained in most personal income tax returns, including those with basic self-employment income, but they cannot do business returns, such as corporate, partnership, limited partnership, farm income or rental income, the release states.

Call to make an appointment at the following locations:

  • Messiah United Methodist Church, 717-771-9042
  • York Alliance Church, 717-771-9042
  • Union Fire Co. (Manchester), 717-771-9042
  • Aldersgate United Methodist Church (York), 717-771-9042
  • White Rose Senior Center (York City), 717-843-9704
  • Red Land Senior Center (Lewisberry), 717-938-4649      
  • Dover Township Library, 717-292-6814
  • Eastern Area Senior Center, 717-252-1641
  • Shrewsbury Grace United Methodist Church, 717-993-3488
  • Hanover Church of the Brethren, 717-633-6353
  • Golden Connections Community Center (Red Lion), 717-244-7229
  • Windy Hill on the Campus (Spring Grove), 717-225-0733