FAQs

Can I phone someone to be sure a site is open today?

Please do not call any of the sites unless a phone number is shown on our site list.  Site closures are normally scheduled in advance and shown on these lists.  Sites will be open as scheduled except under emergency circumstances. 

Who is eligible for services at an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide site?

Almost anyone can receive free assistance, as long as it is within the limits of the skill and training of the volunteer counselors.  This service was originally intended to serve seniors as well as those with low-middle income. The service is now available to anyone whose needs fall within the training and skills of the preparers.  Persons with complex returns and upper income levels would most likely benefit from the skills of a professional service.

Do I have to be a member of AARP?

AARP membership is not required.  Tax-Aide is a free community service provided through the auspices of the AARP Foundation and the IRS.

May I make an appointment?

Some sites accept or require appointments, but most serve taxpayers on a first-come, first-served basis.  See the Site Information page for more information about specific site policies.

Is it really free – even e-filed returns?

Yes, there is no charge for our services and tips and gratuities cannot be accepted.  Donations can be made to the AARP Foundation if desired - see our Donate or Partner page for more information.

What if the Tax-Aide counselor makes an error on my return?

We do our best to avoid errors in the first place by having a second counselor quality review the returns before they are released to the taxpayer.  When mistakes do happen, we will assist taxpayers in correcting the errors but we are not responsible for penalties or interest arising from such errors.  The taxpayer is responsible for the accuracy and completeness of the return and should ensure that he/she reviews the return with the preparer before leaving the site.

Do both spouses need to be present?

We prefer that both spouses be present during the preparation of a joint return since each spouse is legally responsible for its content.  If one spouse is not available, the other spouse can come in alone to have the return prepared, but must obtain the other spouse's signature on Form 8879 and return the form to the site before the return can be e-filed. 

What do I need to bring?

See our Checklist for Taxpayers document on our Documents page.

What forms can be prepared?

Please see our current year Scope Poster on our Documents page.   We have limited ability to complete certain sections of Form 5405 (First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of Credit), Form 5695 (Energy Credits), and Form 8606 (Non-deductible IRA).  Note that we cannot prepare returns for taxpayers seeking to claim credits for installing solar water heating systems or photovoltaic, geothermal, or wind power generating systems, as these are outside the scope of our volunteer training.

What forms will NOT be prepared?

Please see our current year Scope Poster on our Documents page.  Also, any other forms or schedules not listed as "can prepare" are out of scope.

How about information from a K-1?

We can handle simple K-1’s that contain only royalties, interest and dividends and moderate capital gains.  K-1's with any other entries are out of scope.

Are state returns prepared?

We only prepare Hawaii state returns for full-year residents filing Form N-11.  Form N-15 for part-year or non-residents is outside the scope of our volunteer training.  We can prepare state returns to claim refundable credits even if no federal return is required.

How about General Excise Tax Returns?

No, our volunteers are not trained to prepare that type return.

If I arrive before closing time, will my return be completed?

New returns are generally not started during the last hour listed for the site, to enable our volunteers to clear the site and return it to the use of our generous sponsors.   Upon arrival, the client facilitator will advise persons of the likelihood of being served that day.  Taxpayers may be referred to another site and/or advised to return on a different day if it appears service cannot be provided that day.  Note that in February (our busiest month), it is possible for client intake to be cut off very early in the session due to the volume of taxpayers seeking assistance.  We also generally will not amend any tax returns or prepare prior year returns during the month of February due to client volume.

Does the taxpayer need to complete any forms?

Yes, each taxpayer is required to complete the “IRS Form 13614-C Intake/Interview & Quality Review Sheet” before the return can be started – this form is provided at the site.  Assistance is available from the client facilitator and counselor.

Are the counselors competent and well-trained?

Yes.  All of our counselors are required to attend training classes and pass an IRS certification test annually. 

Are there other centers offering free preparation service?

Yes, VITA partners provide services to lower income taxpayers.  To locate a VITA site near you, call 1-800-906-9887.  IRS Offices no longer provide direct assistance in preparing returns, but can refer you to volunteer partners who may be able to assist you.

I misplaced or lost my copy of my tax return.  Can Tax-Aide give me another copy?

Unfortunately, due to cost and time considerations, we are unable to do this.  You can obtain a copy of your complete tax return for a fee or obtain a transcript at no cost from the IRS.  See IRS Tax Topic 156 for information on how to obtain these.

How long does it take to get my refund?

With direct deposit, e-filed returns usually result in federal refunds within 10 to 21 days and state refunds within 10 to 20 days.  Requesting a paper check instead of direct deposit usually adds 7 to 10 days to these time frames.  Filing by paper adds a minimum of 7 days to your refund processing, and may add much more, particularly if you file near the April deadline.  To check the status of your refunds:

    Federal: Click here to access the IRS' Where's My Refund tool or call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

    Hawaii:  Click here to access the Hawaii refund locator page or call the state Department of Taxation at 808-587-4242 or 1-800-222-3229 (outside Oahu).


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