When volunteer Ralph Klann first started helping others file their income taxes through the AARP/IRS Tax Aide Program, it was all about paper, pencils and calculators.
Twenty-two years later, he's still volunteering his services for this important program even though all the work is now done via computer and his duties have switched to more greeter and check-in person than tax preparer. On a typical day last week, Klann helped 46 different couples or individuals get situated at the Alpena Senior Citizens Center for their one-on-one session with a tax aide volunteer.
"I used to go to people's houses when they couldn't get out. Personal service is important," said the 89-year-old Klann, a Chrysler Corp. retiree who admits he still does his own taxes the old-school way.
News Photos by Diane Speer
AARP/IRS Tax Aide Program volunteers working at the Alpena Senior Citizens Center help the public with filing their income taxes.
The program provides assistance in filing income taxes to low and middle income people with special attention given to senior citizens. There are no advance appointments taken and help is given on a first come, first serve basis with payment rendered by donation.
During the month of February only, volunteers have been set up at the Senior Citizens Center on Thursdays from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-3:30 p.m. and on Fridays from 9 a.m.-noon.
Volunteer tax preparers also will continue to be available at Alpena County Library from now through the tax filing deadline on Mondays and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m.-noon and Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m.
Nancy Green serves as district coordinator for the program that covers multiple counties in Northeast Michigan. She began volunteering with the program in 1990, a year after retiring as manager of administration at the former Fletcher Paper Co. She said that helping others get back refunds provides a sense of satisfaction for the volunteers.
"The volunteers do it because they like to help people," Green said. "They like to see people get their proper credits and refunds."
Besides the two sites in Alpena, Green also is responsible for overseeing sites in Hillman, Posen, Lincoln, Rose City, Hale, Tawas and Oscoda. At age 79, she's hoping someone else will soon step up and take over the district coordinator responsibilities from her.
Green said for this tax season, there are several deductions that were not carried over from last year, but even so, many people still seem to be getting credits and refunds.
"Most are pleased when they leave here," she said.
According to Green, the IRS provides 12 computers to operate the program, with AARP adding another three computers. After each tax season is over, the computer files are all erased and the computers are all sent back for refurbishing.
Anyone who is interested in taking advantage of the tax preparation service is asked to bring all statements of income, including Society Security and pension income, property tax records, and expenses such as medical or home heating expenses, to one of the tax preparation sites.