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AARP does good by offering free tax services

Even though it is only the end of January, this year’s deadline to file federal taxes – April 17 – will soon be upon us. For some younger college students, the thought of filing federal income taxes may be an overwhelming one, as they may be unfamiliar with the process or are filing for the first time.

These students need not fear. According to the Tampa Tribune, the American Association of Retired Persons is setting up locations – which can be found by dialing 2-1-1 – all over the Bay area for a free tax assistance service called Tax-Aide, available to all individuals beginning Wednesday.

The locations giving tax assistance are comprised of “volunteers, many of whom are retired tax experts (and) are trained by the Internal Revenue Service to file 2005 returns,” the article in the Tribune said.

The IRS, the agency responsible for putting the American people through this hellish ordeal, is providing some tax preparation relief to lower-income workers, such as college students. The IRS is actually behind the Tax-Aide program, according to the Tribune, and is contracting the AARP to provide the service.

Another component of the IRS’s tax prep relief is a link called “Check Out Free File” on the front page of the IRS’s Web site, www.irs.gov, which states that “70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for free tax preparation software and free electronic filing.” This would be a good alternative for those who do not have time during the day to stop by the AARP’s filing locations.

Taking advantage of either of these services as soon as possible would be a good idea to help students get the most benefit out of their FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid), since taxes need to be completed before a student fills out the financial aid form.

The sooner taxes are done, the sooner the FAFSA can be completed – which could mean more aid money in a student’s pocket. Students could also see their tax refund in as few as two weeks through the AARP’s services, since most of their filings are done electronically, the Tribune said.It’s a good thing that the AARP is providing its services for individuals of all ages and not just persons who are of age to qualify for membership in the AARP, as many college students may not have someone at their disposal to help them with taxes or they cannot afford to hire a tax service to assist them in this occasionally overwhelming endeavor.