The AARP will offer free tax return preparation at the North Platte Public Library again this year, starting on Feb. 2.

AARP will provide the free service through April 13 at the library every Wednesday from noon-3 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

The changes to the federal tax laws will have a significant impact on almost everyone’s tax returns during the upcoming tax season.

These include the doubling of the standard deduction for the taxpayer, which in most cases will eliminate the need to itemize deductions for most who have used that method to reduce their tax liability in the past.

In most cases, this will also impact the taxpayer’s Nebraska state return. This will be explained when returns are prepared.

The shared responsibility penalty under the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) is still in effect for 2018. This means that if the taxpayer did not have health insurance for any individual on the tax return , there will be a penalty for non-coverage unless an exception is available.

AARP Tax Aides nationwide have more than 35,000 volunteers, preparing more than 2.5 million returns for elderly and individuals who cannot afford to have a paid preparer do their taxes.

You do not have to be a member of AARP to use this service.

In Nebraska, there are more than 175 volunteers at 35 sites who prepare more than 8,000 returns. Last year, five volunteers in North Platte prepared just under 500 returns. This year, there will be 10 volunteers preparing tax returns in North Platte.

The most impressive thing about this program is the accuracy rate for the returns prepared by the AARP volunteers. Nationwide, the accuracy rate is right at 95%. In Nebraska, the rate is 99.5%.

The reason for this high accuracy is the fact that every return AARP prepares is double checked by another preparer before it is submitted.

The few rejected returns are usually due to a failure by the taxpayer to provide the preparer with all the information necessary, resulting in the IRS rejecting the return and requires us to check with the taxpayer to correct the return.

Important requirements for this year:

  • Social Security Cards for every individual listed on the return including the taxpayer, spouse, and any dependents to be claimed. Because of the change in the Medicare cards, they will no longer be accepted as a means for seniors to provide their Social Security Number.

If you do not have a SSA card for everyone on your return, now is the time to go to the Social Security Office and request one.

  • Taxpayer’s picture ID and one for a spouse if filing with the taxpayer. Acceptable IDs include a valid driver’s license, state identification card, federal identification card, military ID, etc.
  • A copy of the 2017 return if the taxpayer filed in 2018. Last year’s return is important as it provides the tax preparer a way of comparing information to ensure an accurate return is prepared.
  • If the taxpayer or any dependents had medical insurance for 2018 purchased thru the Health Marketplace under ACA, we must have the Form 1095-A issued by the marketplace.
  • All income forms required to complete the return. This includes the W-2s, all the various 1099s, and any other relevant forms.
  • If the taxpayer and/or spouse have been the victim of identity theft and have been issued an identity pin number by the IRS, regardless when it was issued, AARP must have that number to place on the return or the IRS will reject the return.

There are certain types of returns that AARP cannot prepare, including returns with military income, international income, non-resident foreign students with income, farm income and most business income with some exceptions.

As in past years, there will be an intake/interview form for the taxpayer to complete prior to the return preparation. However, this year AAPP has added three consent forms for the taxpayer to read before preparing the return.

  • Consent form #1: Allows for the carry forward of basic data on the return to any AARP site for the next year. This allows those taxpayers who wish to use another site for preparing their return in the future to have their basic information available in the system. Signing or not signing this form will not impact AARP’s ability to e-file your return.
  • Consent form #2: Your consent on this form allows for demographic questions on the return to be included in national statistics that the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide and the AARP Foundation will use to report to program funders and to apply for grants. Personally identifiable information will not be included. Declining to sign this consent will not allow us to e-file your return, however, AARP can still prepare your return and provide you with a paper copy that you must mail to the IRS.
  • Consent form #3: Signing this form will allow the AARP Foundation to send you information about free programs and services. Signing or not signing this consent will not impact AARP’s ability to e-file your return.

Since it will take additional time to read and complete the intake/interview booklet this year, AARP is making the booklet available at the library on Jan. 2.

So AARP is asking that if you plan to use its service that you pick up a copy and complete it prior to arriving at the site to have your return completed. This will help in servicing as many taxpayers as possible. Please take only one of the booklets so we have enough for everyone.

AARP realizes that this is a lot of information regarding the filing of your tax return and hope that everyone understands that when you arrive at the library, AARP will do its best to advise you if it can prepare your tax return.

AARP does not want you waiting several hours just to be told it will not be able to do your return.