Free Tax Help Offered

No one likes paying taxes. And almost as bad is figuring them out.

Plowing through all those IRS forms and regulations can be particularly tough for folks without accountants or access to other help.

Fortunately — in conjunction with AARP and the IRS — Westport’s Department of Human Services provides a free, full-service tax assistance program. Special attention is paid to senior citizens, and low to moderate income households. (It is available to all filers, regardless of income or age.)

Tax preparation and electronic filing of federal and state taxes is offered from January 27 (early) through April 15 (really, really late) at 2 locations.

The Senior Center program runs Wednesdays (9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) and Thursdays (1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.). Call 203-341-5099 for appointments.

The Town Hall program runs Mondays, from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Call 203-341-1050 for appointments.

Nationwide, more than 35,000 IRS-certified volunteers help out, at nearly 5,000 sites. Last year, 748 returns were filed in Westport.

Tax forms can be daunting for anyone.

If married, both spouses should be present at the appointment. Taxpayers must bring:

  • Copy of last year’s federal and state tax returns
  • Government-issued photo ID
  • Social Security or ITIN numbers for all taxpayers and dependents
  • Bank account/routing numbers (blank check preferred) if expecting a refun
  • SSA1099 if you were paid Social Security benefits
  • W-2s from employers
  • W-2G from gambling winnings
  • 1099G from unemployment compensation payments
  • 1099s: bank interest, stock dividends, retirement distributions, broker statements
  • Receipts for deductible expenses, including real estate and vehicle taxes paid
  • Verification of the original purchase price of sold assets (home, stocks, etc.)
  • Receipts/canceled checks if itemizing deductions (charitable contributions, etc.)
  • Form 1095-A if health insurance was from the Access Health Connecticut Marketplace.

For more information, call the Department of Human Services: 203-341-1050.

NOTE: The “tax assistance program” refers to helping figure out your taxes — not actually paying them. Damn!

6 responses to “Free Tax Help Offered

  1. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Be careful. I’m not an attorney but my guess is you’d have no recourse if their “free” advice results in an audit as opposed to “paid for” tax preparation. With that in mind, you also could forget about hiding behind attorney/client privilege if the situation escalated. As to utilizing IRS “assistance” that sounds about as shrewd as hiring Harvey Weinstein (former Westporter like me) as your HR manager.

    • ERIC – THIS IS ONE OF OUR BEST PROGRAMS AND SHOULD BE APPLAUDED. IT GIVES PREPARATION HELP TO THOSE IN NEED .IT DOES NOT PROVIDE ANY GUARANTEES BUT IS CERTAINLY A NEEDED SERVICE

  2. William Strittmatter

    @eric – Paranoid much?

    These sorts of programs have been around for decades and are targeted at first time filers, lower income folks and/or senior citizens that have various difficulties in manuevering around tax forms so are uncomfortable doing it themselves.

    From folks I know that have volunteered as tax preparers and trainers at these sort of tax prep centers, the individuals involved have more than adequate training from experienced tax preparers for the basic returns they are completing and are easily as qualified as many of the folks you might find at the paid preparation services. Westport might be different but most of these sorts of places would turn away high income and/or complex returns for folks that should (and do) go somewhere else.

  3. Nice article. I have been a tax counselor with this AARP/IRS sponsored program since 2007. I am the local coordinator for the town of Rocky Hill, Ct for the past 6 years. It is an extremely rewarding volunteer activity.

    Nationally,  there are approximately 32,000 volunteers in this program.  Last year we did about 3.4 million free tax returns with nearly 99 % accuracy.  If each client saved roughly $200 coming to us instead of having their return done by a paid preparer, we would be saving the US population nearly $700 Million a year. And $200 is a very low estimate.

    We are technically certified/recertified every year by the IRS. We do returns only within our certification level and within scope guidelines established by AARP/IRS. We are protected by the 1997 Volunteer Protection Act as long as we meet the act guide lines. We do not do rental property,  depreciation,  small businesses with employees or with expenses over certain amounts. We interview each client to ensure we are qualified and within scope before starting every return. If not, we explain the situation to our client and suggest they see a paid preparer. We do ordinary returns although sometimes quite complex. We can not turn away a client based on income, but obviously a high income client would likely be better off with a CPA and financial planner.

    It is true that we are counselors, assisting the client with their return. It is made clear to each and every individual who requests our services that is the case. We complete their return, quality review it by a second qualified counselor and then review with and fully explain to the individual/couple. We electronically efile their return and they walk away with all paperwork. Finally we ensure the return is accepted by both the federal government and our state. If not, we assist the client with all necessary corrections or modifications to get their returns accepted.

    Thanks for publicizing our program.

    Mike
    Staples 1963

    • And best player/high scoring guard on Staples ‘63 Men’s basketball team that he led to the Ct State quarterfinals that year … Lillis, Waucope other members

  4. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    OK…never mind 🤦‍♂️

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