Living

Tax help program gears up for February start

AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine — AARP’s Tax-Aide program, which offers tax assistance to the elderly, low-income and others who might need assistance, plans to open in Caribou by Feb. 16.

The group has been offering tax assistance to County residents for close to 20 years, but due to COVID-19 restraints will only be open at the VFW Hall in Caribou, located at 253 Van Buren Rd. Organizers said they plan to be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

 Since the University of Maine at Presque Isle campus is closed to the public, that site is unavailable this year.

“The IRS will not be accepting new returns until at least Feb. 12, so we will not be open until Feb. 16, at the earliest, said Penny Kern, Tax-Aide district coordinator for Aroostook County.

“We are aware that many of our clients wish to file at the state level only, for purposes of claiming a tax credit. We are only too glad to assist with this, but in the interests of minimizing congestion at the site, we ask that those clients come to the site from noon to 2 p.m., each day we are open,” Kern said.

Other clients are asked to arrive before that time.

COVID social distancing and masking rules will be rigorously enforced and there will be limited capacity for clients in the building at any one time.  When numbers exceed that capacity, clients will be asked to wait in their vehicles until space becomes available.  

Clients must bring Social Security cards or other paperwork showing Social Security numbers for everyone in the household. They must also present a photo ID for the primary person on the return, as well as all pertinent tax documents. If any are missing, clients will be asked to return another time with all necessary documents. 

As always, clients should bring a copy of last year’s return, and this year, they need to bring their own pens.

“We will assist each client in filling out the intake information that IRS requires of us.  Each client will be assigned to a qualified preparer, who will generate their return, which will be reviewed by another preparer before it is approved and printed,” Kern said.

Clients will receive a printed copy of their returns. Unless they wish to mail in a paper return, their returns will be e-filed. On rare occasions, a paper file may be required. If a client wishes to have direct deposit of a refund, or direct withdrawal of a payment, they must bring a copy of a check.

“This year things may get bit more anxious than in the past. Please know that we are also a bit anxious, but we will do our best to accommodate your particular circumstances at tax time. Thank you all for your support and understanding,” Kern said.

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