Since January, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteer specialists have been extremely busy helping citizens complete their tax forms.
In Puyallup, the free service was offered at the Puyallup Public Library and Puyallup Activity Center.
The AARP Foundation works closely with the IRS to help folks complete their tax forms in an efficient and confidential manner.
“We help anyone who comes,” said Ruth Tervol, a Puyallup resident who has been volunteering as an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide for the last 27 years.
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Some AARP Foundation sites only help folks who are 62 and older, but Tervol said the Puyallup sites help clients of any age complete their tax forms.
The free service is not available, however, to clients 62 and younger who earn $100,000 or more a year, Tervol said.
Between the two Puyallup sites, 900 clients have been served this year, Tervol said.
Tervol, 75, works four-hour shifts January through April, and loves helping people.
“Even if they have to pay some tax, they are happy that I helped them,” she said. “My idea with helping them is to educate them about their taxes.”
Volunteers are well trained and must pass three tests every year before tax season kicks off.
At the Puyallup Library on a busy Friday afternoon, clients sat on benches patiently waiting their turn on a first-come, first-served basis.
It was Virginia Hanley’s first time using the service.
“Everything is organized and the wait is worth it,” she said.
Fred Brotherton, a retired CPA who serves as the district coordinator for Pierce County AARP Foundation, said the IRS provides the computer program volunteers use and the whole process is extremely efficient.
Clients and the volunteer go over all information and their return is filed on the spot electronically, with a copy printed out for them to take home.
Brotherton said many seniors are low income and lack the computer skills necessary to file their taxes online.
“I get a lot of personal enjoyment out of the counseling part of it, dealing with the clients. We have 70 wonderful people to work with and they are all supportive of me,” said Brotherton.
Tervol, who worked for the IRS for many years before retiring in 1995, said many people have no idea about how to file their taxes.
“They know they have to file, but I like explaining to them the reasons and like helping them understand what is going on. That is what I love about it. I’ve talked to paid preparers and they don’t do any of that. The clients just drop it off and I like to talk face to face with my clients,” said Tervol, who also volunteers as a tax preparer at Milton Senior Center, Buckley Senior Center, Puyallup Methodist Church and Mt. View Lutheran Church in Edgewood.
Tervol clearly enjoys her work, and her dedication shines through.
“I keep saying this will be my last year, but I’ll keep doing it as long as I’m mentally competent enough,” she said with a laugh.