Mark Harvey — It’s time for some tax help


In deference to, and recognition of, the simple fact that this Sunday exercise is designed, at least in part, to actually help people, do you suppose we ought to, at least occasionally, do something genuinely helpful? Me, too — so, we will.

Think: Taxes … well, OK, think anything you want, but the fact remains that in the not-too-distant future, many of us are going to have to think about taxes, which means that many of us are going to want to think about TAX-AIDE.

We do this every year, because taxes (specifically, income taxes) happen to us every year. TAX-AIDE are the good guys! These are the unpaid volunteers who volunteer to spend major portions of their holidays studying tax law, then thinking about it and asking questions about it and taking tests about it and then give away substantial portions of their lives helping us prepare our tax returns so we don’t have to do any of that. And they do it for free, which is why we call them “volunteers.”

Did you get that? Free, as in their-help-doesn’t-cost-us-anything, and yes, we should be grateful.

Here’s the deal: They’re trained to help most of us low-to-middle income taxpayers. If you’re the CEO of a multi-national corporation, go to the back of the line, but for the rest of us — for MOST of us! — these are the people we want to go see.

You don’t have to be broke and you don’t have to be or 60-or-better or anything like that. What you do have to do is show up at one of the sites (hang on, we’ll get there) and bring:

• Photo ID;

• Social Security cards for taxpayer, spouse and dependents;

• W-2’s, 1099’s and any/all other documents necessary to complete a tax return;

• Bank account routing and account numbers (a check would work) if you want a refund deposited directly (which would be smart), and…

• …last year’s tax return.

NOTE: Think this all the way through, because it doesn’t help you, the TAX-AIDE folks or the people waiting behind you for you to show up and not have all your stuff. Good.

Now, here’s where these TAX-AIDE folks will be, in order to help us:

• At the South Shore Mall in Aberdeen, through April 10th, Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 p.m. to 2 p.m. New this year, at the mall site, TAX-AIDE is adding two Saturdays: Feb. 23 and March 16, 10 p.m. to 2 p.m.;

• At the Ocean Shores library, Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through April 11th;

• At the McCleary Timberland library, the second and fourth Thursdays in February and March (plus April 4th) from 3 to 7 p.m., and the second and fourth Saturdays in February and March (plus April 6th) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.;

I know what you’re thinking, because I know what I’m thinking: “With the ‘fiscal cliff’ and debt ceilings and Lord-only knows what else, how bad has the whole ‘tax thing’ gotten?” Answer: Not much; well, at least, not much worse.

If you’re single and make more than $250,000/year, or married and make more than $300,000/year, things have changed; for the rest of us, not really. The tax rates are the same, the capital gains and dividend rates are the same, the “Child Tax Credit” and “Earned Income Tax Credit,” etc. are the same. Sales taxes are still deductible, if you itemize, there’s still some “relief” for folks who lost a home to foreclosure, etc. So, really, for most of us, this year looks a lot like last year — at least, tax-wise.

OK? Now remember, we don’t call this little column “Tax Line,” so this as far as I’m going with this topic, because I know when I’m out of my league, but when you show up for help from these TAX-AIDE folks, feel free to thank them — profusely.

We are getting our taxes done! All they’re getting is a migraine.

Mark Harvey is the director of Senior Information and Assistance for Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He can be reached at harvemb@dshs.wa.gov or 532-0520 in Aberdeen, (360) 942-2177 in Raymond or (360) 642-3634. FACEBOOK: Olympic Area Agency on Aging-Information & Assistance.