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  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    as AARP gives free help to tax filers Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at the Nashua Public Library.
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Carole Blackwell, left, and John Lopez, second from left, looks over tax info for Jerry and Brenda LePage as AARP gives free help to tax filers Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at the Nashua Public Library.
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Andy Kuehnel, left, from the AARP gives free tax help to Vincent Wang Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at the Nashua Public Library.
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Area residents stop in with their paperwork as AARP gives free help to tax filers Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at the Nashua Public Library.
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    as AARP gives free help to tax filers Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at the Nashua Public Library.
Thursday, April 12, 2012

Volunteers ready to help last-minute tax filers at Nashua library

The basement of the Nashua Public Library has been home in recent months to a remarkable scene: People smiling as they work to pay their taxes.

“Mostly people are happy. They really appreciate it,” said Don Ware of Hollis, one of dozens of trained volunteers in the AARP Tax-Aide program, which for decades has done free preparation of relatively straightforward tax returns throughout the country.

Those smiles don’t necessarily mean people are happy with the federal tax system, of course.

Consider Shirley Gregoire of Nashua, who came to the library Wednesday morning to get Tax-Aide help.

“I usually do my own taxes, but I had a question this year, so I thought I’d come here,” she said. Her question concerned a certain type of deduction.

Gregoire, like many users of the Tax-Aide system, is retired. The thing is, she used to work in an accounting office.

“That’s why I did my own taxes,” she said.

If Gregoire wouldn’t mind some help, no wonder lots of other people do, too.

The local AARP Tax-Aide district, which covers Nashua, Hudson, Milford and Wilton, has 86 volunteers who work at least 40 hours during tax season, usually in 4 1⁄ 2-hour shifts one or two days a week.

Many volunteers are also retired. Ware, for example, used to work for Digital Electronics Corp.

Volunteers get two weeks of training at Daniel Webster College in tax law and the specialized software.

Each volunteer handles as many as seven or eight tax returns in each shift, depending on how complicated they are. The library probably will help around 1,500 people during the season, which started early this year.

Anybody can file their returns for free online at IRS.gov. An advantage of having Tax-Aide do your return is that at least two volunteers look over it, catching mistakes, including refunds that weren’t claimed, notably the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“We’re always checking out each other’s work,” said Michael Chung of Nashua, a volunteer.

As with paid preparers, Tax-Aide usually finds that February is busy, when people rush to get their tax refund after W-2 forms arrive.

March is quiet, and there’s a rush in April as tax deadline nears.

An issue that the program encounters surprisingly often, said Ware, is identity theft. Taxpayers will find that somebody else has used the Social Security number of a dependent, or even a dead relative, to claim a tax return check.

The Tax-Aide program is supported by the IRS, which among other things gives it license to tax-preparation software. That support comes partly because volunteers urge people to electronically file their returns, which greatly cuts costs for the IRS.

Not every taxpayer can use the Tax-Aide project, which doesn’t handle certain types of returns. On Wednesday, a Nashua man was turned away because he rented out a part of his house, and rental income is outside the scope of the program.

“The typical taxpayer in Nashua, we can help,” Ware said.

Tax-Aide will be at the Nashua Public Library, 2 Court St., Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Tax-Aide is operating in six places in the Nashua area through Monday, April 16. The deadline for filing taxes is Tuesday, April 17, because April 15 is a Sunday, and April 16 is Emancipation Day, a holiday in Washington, D.C., celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 order that freed slaves held in the district.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashuatelegraph.com.