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Kokua Line: With Hawaii Tax-Aide sites closed, AARP Foundation offers help online

Question: With the tax-filing deadline extended, has the AARP reopened any of the places where they help you fill out your taxes? I usually go for help every year and I don’t know what I will do without it.

Answer: No. As of Wednesday, in-person service from the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program remained suspended until further notice. You are one of many readers asking whether this popular free tax-preparation service will resume this tax season, after being shut down statewide in March because of the pandemic. We’ve been checking for updates every few days, and so far the AARP Foundation is offering help only online.

If you are interested and have internet access, visit aarpfoundation.org/taxaide for more information or to sign up. The AARP Foundation may assist taxpayers in one of two ways: “We can connect you with a volunteer to assist you or we can connect you with software so you can prepare and file your own tax returns — at no cost,” it says on the website.

For the former (help from a volunteer), you’ll have to fill out an online form and wait for a volunteer to get back to you by email (so you’ll need an email address). On the form, you’ll indicate dates and times that you’re available to meet online with the volunteer. According to the website, you would receive an email confirming that AARP Foundation has received your request and “a Tax-Aide volunteer will then contact you with a Google Meet invitation to assist you with the preparation of your tax return.” Google Meet is an online video-chat platform.

For the latter (access to free software to prepare your own returns), you would review your eligibility to use a free version of TurboTax or OnLine Taxes. Assuming you are eligible, you would choose one and follow the instructions to file your own taxes securely online.

The AARP Foundation’s website says you would use TurboTax to file a free federal and state return if your adjusted gross income is $36,000 or less, or you are eligible for the earned income tax credit, or you are in the U.S. military (active duty) and have an AGI of $69,000 or less. You’d use OnLine Taxes to do so if your AGI is between $14,000 and $69,000 or you are active-duty military with AGI of $69,000 or less, it says.

The AARP Foundation traditionally offers in-person Tax-Aide services statewide, and had begun the program in late January before the pandemic shut down all locations.

As you indicated, the deadline for filing federal income tax returns was extended to July 15, while the state income tax filing deadline is July 20; both dates were pushed back from April due to the pandemic.

Q: Staying at home I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning and I have a lot of household items to give away. Usually some charity is calling every few weeks for donations, but since the shutdown they haven’t been. Do you know of any that will pick up?

A: Yes, we know of at least one charity — the United Cerebral Palsy Association— that has resumed free islandwide pickup service on Oahu. Schedule your pickup online, at ucpickup.org. Double check the list of acceptable items on the same website, to be sure that all the household goods you want to donate will be picked up as scheduled.

Mahalo

A belated thanks to the kind person who found my credit card at Market City Shopping Center back in April and mailed it to Costco. You saved me so much time and worry. Praying for many blessings to come your way, and a reminder to myself to be as kind when the opportunity comes. — Gratefully, Klutzy Kamaaina


Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.


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