A free tax-filing service has returned to Tillamook after an eight-year absence.
By Brad Mosher
AARP Tax-Aide Oregon will start offering the opportunity for personally-prepared tax filings for seniors and both people with low and moderate-income in Tillamook County. The preparers will be using the Hatfield Room in the Tillamook County Library on Third Street.
The service is free and uses trained volunteers who have been certified by the Internal Revenue Service, according to Flurry D. Stone, the district coordinator.
Tillamook used to have the service for local residents, but a dearth of volunteers led the Tillamook operation to closing down, even though they had handled more than two hundred tax returns the final spring they were open.
Linda Bade, the site coordinator for the program in Tillamook, thinks the new location inside the library will help to re-establish the service in the community and perhaps even bring people in from outlying towns.
“We did not have community spaces to support the program in Tillamook,” Bade said. “Now, with the way the library is configured, we have the ability to put the program in a place where it can set up and be there. Whenm they were doing the taxes eight years ago, they were all over. Every year, they went to a different place.
“When you are moving a lot of resource equipment around, it just gets to be a nuisance,” she added.The foundation is also looking to expand the number of volunteers certified to hand the
People can sign up for the tax program at the reference desk in the library, Bade said.
“We started last year trying to set up a new office,” she said. Bade tried to make arrangements with the community college, the senior center and several other locations in Tillamook before they were able to get what they needed at the library.
Bade said the library is a good central location to rebuild in the Tillamook community
The service fills a need in the Tillamook area, according to Stone. “The AARP Tax-Aide Foundation does this. We are basically aiming at low-income and seniors. The Foundation and the IRS are trying to add to the pool of local volunteers as well. “It takes more than 40 hours of training and testing to learn the most basic techniques,” Bade said.
The training doesn’t stop there, with each new tax year adding new wrinkles to preparing a tax return.
“We had to go through extensive training to put this program on,” Bade said. “We are going to have two preparers (in town) and be able to bring up people from Lincoln City.”
The work requirements will be set up by the number of people who register in Tillamook for the program, she said.
“We have reserved one of the community spaces (in the library) for every Tuesday … running through the 12th of April – the last Tuesday before the 15th,” she explained.
The library will give the new office more space than the other district locations in Lincoln City, Newport and Waldport, Stone said. The other offices in the district average about 300 to 500 returns a year.
“We’d get people all the way from here (Tillamook) down to Lincoln City to get their taxes done. That is a 100-mile long trip at least and we have had to send people back because they didn’t have the pertinent information that we needed,” Stone said.
“For a senior or somebody with a low income, that is a hardship.”