Want to help others file their taxes? Training available, no experience necessary
By Richard Simonds for Ashland.news
Two area residents — Charlie and Ruth Ter Bush — have been preparing taxes since 2015 (2014 taxes) for the AARP Foundation Tax Aide program. They have done all the training for this area for the past three years and Ruth has been local coordinator at The Grove site in Ashland for the past seven years.
Local residents who use the tax aide services rave about the accuracy and quality of their tax returns every year. Those volunteers who are part of their team praise them for the quality of the tax preparation training and support they receive. “This is some of the most satisfying work I’ve ever done,” Charlie said.
Those who want to help can be a part of this free service that aims to help seniors prepare their Federal and State (both Oregon and California) taxes every year. Just in the Rogue Valley they prepare close to 1,200 tax returns from February to April. Currently they have 30 volunteers, but typically have had 50 each year until COVID caused some volunteers to step down.
Anyone who wants to can be part of their team to help seniors, even if they don’t know anything about doing tax returns. It’s not necessary to have a finance or tax background to be trained to make a difference in the lives of seniors, especially those who may have limited resources, have fairly basic taxes, and who can benefit from your help. The AARP Tax Aide service uses an IRS software program that walks users through the key elements of the types of taxes that most seniors file. In addition, Ruth and Charlie provide personalized training for people to be tax preparers.
The Rogue Vallely District provides tax aide services to seniors in four locations: The Grove in Ashland, at 1195 E. Main St.; the Talent Library; the Eastwood Baptist Church in Medford; and the White City Family Center.
Rick, who didn’t give his last name, is one of the tax aide volunteers. He said, “This is my 17th year and I aim to receive my 25-year pin from AARP because this work is so rewarding. My career was as an engineer, so I’m familiar working with numbers, but I never worked in finance or taxes. However, I enjoy problem-solving and helping others, so the training I received in tax law (it changes every year) and the quality of the tax aide training and the IRS software make the job of helping seniors with their taxes very, very satisfying.”
For more information on volunteering, go to: www.aarpfoundation.org/TaxAideVolunteer or call AARP at 888-227-7669. There are many volunteer opportunities available to support tax aides that do not involve preparing taxes.
Ruth Ter Bush will teach a class on “Tax Information for Seniors” in the fall quarter at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, including details on how to become a tax aide volunteer. Call the OLLI Office at 541-552-6048 to receive a catalog when it’s available.
Contact Ashland resident Richard Simonds by email at email@example.com. This article was written for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) Community Journalism at Ashland.news class during the winter 2023 quarter.