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Free help available to file your federal taxes

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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For 10 years, Shelton resident Cheryl Williams has volunteered her time and mathematical knowledge "to keep people out of trouble."

As a volunteer tax preparer for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Williams offers free federal tax preparation at the Shelton and Belfair libraries and at the Mason County Senior Activities Center in Shelton.

The most rewarding part is "when they say, You don't know how much this means to be me,'" Williams said.

Williams and other AARP volunteers help people prepare taxes from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays at the Belfair Library; 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays at the Mason County Senior Activities Center in Shelton; and 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays at the Shelton Library.

The Internal Revenue Service certifies the program and provides the information on tax laws. There is no sales pitch for paid tax preparers. Although the AARP is an organization for seniors, tax filers of all ages are welcome.

The volunteers can help you prepare 1040 forms with schedules A, B and D, and schedule C up to $10,000 in expenses. They cannot prepare 1040 schedule C, a complicated schedule D or schedule E and F.

Williams worked as an accountant in California before moving to Olympia, where she volunteered for the program for two years. She continued when she moved to Shelton 10 years ago.

Zada Goucher has volunteered as an AARP tax aide since 2009. She is also the district coordinator for the program in Mason County.

Goucher said she likes to work with people and enjoys numbers. This is her way to give back to the community, she said.

"Most of us have done our taxes, or our family's," Goucher said. "It's a progression."

The clients range in age from 17 to 104, Goucher said. The biggest influx of clients is at the beginning of the year, and then it slows down, she said.

"We have a lot of people who don't know how to use a computer. We get teenagers who have no idea what they're doing," Goucher said.

Many of the clients are returnees. Some are seniors who are facing their taxes alone for the first time.

"It's really sad when an elderly person comes in and says, 'My husband or wife died this year,' Williams said. "You can tell they're shell-shocked."

Greeters help the clients and volunteer preparers. They include 97-year-old Margaret McCann, who has worked with the program for more than 30 years, and Williams' 10-year-old daughter, Annabelle Gammons.

Gammons, a student at Mountain View Elementary, passed two tests to serve as a greeter, including an ethics test. The questions included, "Is it OK to use a tip jar?" (The answer is no).

The IRS provides the preparers information on new tax laws. The penalty for not having health insurance is proving to be "the biggest nuisance" for some tax filers this year, Goucher said.

The organization is seeking volunteers who are good at math, have computer skills and "the ability to learn," Goucher said. For more information, call 1-888-227-7669.

IF YOU GO

WHO: AARP Foundation Tax-Aide

WHAT: Free tax preparation

WHEN AND WHERE: 12:30 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays at the Belfair Library; 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays at the Mason County Senior Activities Center; 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays at the Shelton Library

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call 275-3921



Copyright 2016 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: March 10, 2016



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