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AARP service helps alleviate a 'taxing' situation in Bridgeville

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Every Monday through April, free tax assistance is available at Bridgeville Public Library. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., residents can get AARP Foundation volunteers to assist them as they fill out federal and state tax forms.

An appointment is required. Those who are filing are asked to bring their social security card, photo ID and bank account information, or the appointment will need to be rescheduled. Arrive 15 minutes early to complete a new form. Space is limited.

Call the library at 412-221-3737 or visit the library, located at 505 McMillen St., to schedule an appointment with a tax aide.

Other tax-aide locations in the county can be found at the AARP website, www.aarp.org.

Allen Harper of Mt. Lebanon just likes to help people.

For the last four years, he has been a part of the AARP Foundation Tax Aide Program at Bridgeville Public Library. On Mondays, he checks in to help low- and moderate-income residents prepare their federal and state tax forms — all for free.

From February to April 15, more than 32,000 trained volunteers visit libraries, community centers, churches and other locations — more than 7,000 — to assist taxpayers of all ages, but especially those 60 and older. The program began in 1968.

“There is an exam we have to pass on being able to do the IRS work,” he said. “You have to get 80 percent.”

Then there's training before becoming a volunteer and “shadowing” an actual volunteer before actually working one on one with participants, who must bring income records to the pre-scheduled meetings.

Working with the tax-aide volunteer will take approximately an hour, but residents should come early to complete a form before beginning the electronic-filing process.

It's the organized taxpayers Harper finds the easiest to work with, not those who want to itemize deductions and bring in a boxful of receipts, he said.

“The hardest are those who could really do it themselves. They have the form filled out and want us to check it.”

He remembers one woman who stopped by the library near the filing deadline. She was a widow. When he asked her when her husband had died, she replied “last week.”

“I put an extension in for her,” Harper said.

Most people get refunds, one of the best moments in the “taxing” process.

But at 79, Harper is pleased to say with a chuckle, “I help old people.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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