Learn how to help clients with tax issues


AARP Tax-Aide Locations

AARP has released its directory of tax-aide locations. Volunteers at these sites provide free tax return preparation assistance to low and middle-income individuals “with special attention to those ages 60 and older.” Clients under age 60 are also eligible. The AARP website contains a search engine whereby our clients can locate the tax-aide site nearest them. Go to the AARP Tax Locator site HERE.

The tax-aide site locator can be accessed from the “Money” section of the AARP website. Clients can enter their zip code to find the nearest location. In Athens, for example, there are three AARP sponsored sites at a grocery store, senior center, and library, not including a number of other sites that are not directly sponsored by AARP. Either you or your client can learn about other volunteer income tax assistance (VITA) sites by calling the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

In addition, clients who are internet-savvy can file an electronic return for free at the following website:

http://www.icanefile.org/?caller=68

We encourage you to locate the tax-aide site nearest your clients and urge your clients to utilize this service, rather than signing up for a refund anticipation loan (RAL). There is a client brochure in the EITC folder on the Georgia Advocates website that describes the terms of an RAL for clients who may be considering this option.

Illustration of How Legal Workers Can Utilize Information About Tax-Aide Providers to Benefit Clients:

One way to reach out to clients regarding the EITC and free tax return preparation is for each office to prepare a list of the tax-aide providers in each county of that office’s service area. The advantage of this idea is that an office can create master lists of tax-aide providers to slip into a letter to a client. The disadvantage is of course that it takes time to compile lists for each county and thus may not be feasible.

Another option is for legal workers to simply use the AARP tax-aide locator feature referenced above, or the IRS phone number, to locate the nearest tax-aide provider for each client. The worker can then ask the client if he or she has filed their return yet. If not, the worker can mail the client information about where to obtain assistance, what to bring to the site, and how to file for the EITC. This will not need to be done for every client, but it takes only a few minutes to have a conversation with a client about their taxes and their plans for filing a return.

EITC Benefits Can Be Claimed For Up to Three Years in the Past

Please remind clients that EITC benefits can be claimed retroactively for up to three years while a client is filing for the EITC for 2008. These benefits can be especially helpful for clients who are behind on their mortgage. We have attached some information from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) that provides information about how to claim back benefits. We hope that clients can take this information with them to a tax-aide site to discuss with a tax return preparer if the client cannot navigate the requirements for claiming back benefits themselves.

Additional Information Found in the Attached EITC Alert

Finally, you will find attached some information produced by the Center on Budget Policies and Priorities regarding the following issues:

* New Food Stamp Resource Rules Encourage Saving for Retirement or Education
* Forgiven Mortgage Debt May be Excluded from Income
* Child Tax Credit Explanation for 2008

Open the 2009 Alert ATTACHMENT here.

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About ProBonoGA

Lawyer and justice architect wannabe... I am the pro bono director for Georgia Legal Services Program and direct a program that is funded by GLSP and the State Bar of Georgia. I am a lawyer licensed to practice law in the state of Georgia, and not in any other jurisdiction. Nothing posted on this blog should be considered legal advice. Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship with me. I do not have an active legal practice and do not have clients. I am not using this site to market to clients. I do not recommend attorneys or law firms. If I reference an attorney or a law firm in this blog, I do so to tell a story, make a point, or urge you to think about an issue presented by that attorney or law firm.
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