FAQs

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

For 2021, you must have an appointment for service - no walk-ins will be accepted, so please do not call any site.  Appointment numbers shown in the site locator or on our site listing sheet will not be answered in real time - you will need to leave a message for a callback. If your appointment needs to be canceled or rescheduled due to facility or staffing issues, we will call you to let you know.  

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?

For 2021, you MUST have an appointment for service - no walk-ins will be accepted.  Appointment numbers shown in the site locator or on our site listing sheet will not be answered in real time - you will need to leave a message for a callback. If your appointment needs to be canceled or rescheduled due to facility or staffing issues, we will call you to let you know.   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 we must be able to speak to the absent spouse during return preparation and the spouse who is present 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 this page for information on what will be needed.

What forms can be prepared?

Please go to this page to see our current year Scope Poster.   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 go to this page to see our current year Scope Poster..  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.

Does the taxpayer need to complete any forms?

Yes, each taxpayer is required to complete the Tax-Aide Intake Booklet which includes “IRS Form 13614-C Intake/Interview & Quality Review Sheet” and several consent forms before the return can be started. You should also fill out the Hawaii Supplemental Intake Form and the Itemized Deductions Worksheet if filing a Hawaii return.  These forms may be available for pickup at the site ahead of your appointment, mailed to you, or e-mailed to you and printed out at your home. You will get information about how to obtain your forms when you are assigned your appointment.  Additional supplementary information-gathering forms may be required depending on your circumstances (e.g., self-employed, COVID-19 retirement distributions, itemizing deductions, etc.).  If possible, fill out the forms before arriving for your appointment, as we will have limited assistance available for on-site completion of these forms.

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.  At the beginning of the season, returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit will take longer than usual to process due to required validation checks by the IRS.  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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