MOUNT DESERT ISLAND —The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has partnered with volunteers to offer free, in-person tax aid to Mount Desert Island residents at two area libraries.
Since February, volunteers have been helping residents file their taxes at the Southwest Harbor Public Library and, for the first time ever, at the Northeast Harbor Library. The volunteers are trained, tested and certified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Though the service is sponsored by a nonprofit organization for seniors, this free program is open to all low- and middle-income tax preparers of any age.
“I can’t remember turning anyone away…who has asked us to help,” said AARP Tax-Aide volunteer Phillip Koch. Many who are served, he said, may not feel that they can afford to pay for help filing their taxes.
Koch, a retired Apple software engineer, has enjoyed helping folks navigate the ins and outs of the ever-changing federal tax codes. He is one of the two AARP Tax-Aide volunteers on the island who are familiar enough with computer programs to operate the tax preparation software.
“We help people who are confused by the tax code because people don’t always know all the benefits that are available to them, and we can help,” Koch said.
In many cases, Koch noted their clients can get all the tax benefits and programs available that would otherwise be missed if filed with no assistance from a tax professional.
“Not everyone enjoys doing their taxes. To keep up, it’s nearly a full-time job. Many of the people we find who end up coming to us don’t do their taxes, which is a real shame because most who aren’t filing are walking away from money,” he said.
The two tax specialists have helped approximately 200 island residents file their taxes this year and will continue to do so until the end of March. Southwest Harbor Public Library is currently booked for the rest of the tax season, but Northeast Harbor Library still has openings. Next year, the same service will be available again at both local libraries.
Filers are requested to bring their social security card, birth certificate, last year’s tax return, a bank account number and all 2021 tax documents. To book an appointment at the Northeast Harbor Library, call (207) 276-3333.