COLUMBUS - The Ohio Department of Aging and AARP Ohio have teamed to raise awareness of assistance available to help older Ohioans file their income tax returns.
The AARP Tax-Aide program has 1,400-plus volunteers at more than 400 sites throughout the state - including libraries, community centers, senior housing complexes and senior centers - ready to assist moderate- to low-income Ohioans in preparing their federal, state and local tax returns.
“Understanding the ever-changing tax codes and forms can be a daunting task for anyone, but older adults may have questions that can best be answered only by someone well-versed in those issues,” said Barbara E. Riley, director of the Ohio Department of Aging. “How much do you have to earn before you must pay taxes? Do you have to pay taxes on your pension or social security benefits? What is the standard deduction for seniors? It is important that older Ohioans have access to resources that can help them find the answers they need.”
“Many older individuals may not be required to file a tax return, but could benefit from doing so,” added Jane Taylor, state director for AARP Ohio. “For instance, eligible folks who did not file a 2008 return to qualify for the economic stimulus payments issued last year may be eligible for a recovery rebate credit worth up to $1,200. AARP Tax-Aide volunteers can help them find out about and access this assistance.”
Older Ohioans and qualifying relatives who provide care for them also may be able to deduct certain out-of-pocket medical expenses on their tax returns. This includes dental treatments, the cost of transportation needed to get to a medical appointment, health insurance premiums and qualified long-term care services.
From Feb. 1 through April 15 each year, the AARP Tax-Aide program offers free one-on-one counseling, as well as assistance on the telephone and Internet to help individuals prepare basic tax forms. In 2008, AARP Tax-Aide volunteers assisted 141,382 Ohioans.
While the AARP Tax-Aide program is available to qualifying individuals of any age, volunteers are particularly proficient in issues facing older taxpayers. You do not need to be a senior citizen or AARP member to access the service. However, they can only assist individuals with personal income taxes and cannot help those filing returns for farming operations, businesses or rental properties.
To locate an AARP Tax-Aide site in your community, call toll free 1-888-227-7669 or visit the Web site at www.aarp.org/money/taxaide/.
Additionally, any Ohioan with an annual household income of less than $56,000 can access free federal and Ohio income tax return assistance from the Ohio Benefits Bank. Trained counselors at Benefit Bank sites and clinics across the state will help prepare and file federal and Ohio income tax returns at no cost to eligible Ohioans. Free income tax assistance is also available through an online, self-service program at www.OBB.Ohio.gov. Call 1-800-648-1176 for more information.
Whether you will be getting help from an AARP Tax-Aide volunteer, a paid tax preparer or some other source, AARP recommends you collect the following information before you talk to them:
• A copy of your 2007 tax return;
• W-2 forms from each employer;
• All 1099 forms showing interest or dividends, as well as documentation showing the original purchase price of your sold assets;
• Your SSA-1099 form if you receive Social Security Benefits;
• Your 1099R form if you received a pension or annuity;
• All forms indicating federal income tax paid;
• Unemployment compensation statements;
• Child care provider information (name, employer ID, SSN);
• All receipts or canceled checks for items such as medical expenses, taxes paid, mortgage interest paid and charitable contributions; and
• Social Security numbers for all dependents.