Celebrating Carnival may be on your mind now, but it’s coming up on the time of year many people dread — the time for filing federal and state tax returns. A longtime program is available, however, to help in preparing returns for low- and middle-income taxpayers, with special attention to those 50 and older.
Beginning the first week of February until April 15, the AARP Tax-Aide program will prepare returns free of charge. And you don’t have to be a member of AARP to use the service.
A joint program of the AARP Foundation and the Internal Revenue Service, certified volunteers are trained in tax law and in the computer software used in preparing returns.
Fred Dumas is the Jefferson district coordinator for the tax program. His area includes Orleans, Jefferson and the River parishes. He said the AARP Foundation has provided the tax aid service since 1968, helping more than 50 million people nationwide.
“Last year in the New Orleans area, we had about 3,000 people utilize this free tax service,” Dumas said. “We have many local residents who do come back year after year. And these same people are the ones who recommend the services to others.”
Each person filing must bring picture identification cards, Social Security cards, 2015 tax forms and records including the Affordable Care Act Marketplace 1095 forms and any Marketplace exemption documents.
“You should also bring the homeowners insurance declaration page and the 2015 income tax return,” Dumas said. “Taxpayers should have all the required documents when they arrive at an AARP Tax-Aide site to get their returns completed. If they don’t have the documents, they may be asked to come back at a later date until they have all the information.”
For those taxpayers wondering how the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” affects their income tax, here’s the rundown: a taxpayer and each member of his or her family are required to have qualifying health insurance known as Minimum Essential Coverage; or to have an exemption at the time a return is filed; or to make a Shared Responsibility Payment when the taxpayer files the federal income tax return. How it affects you depends on your situation, Dumas said.
In the New Orleans area, the following tax preparation locations, days and times of service are listed below.
Algiers Regional Library, 3014 Holiday Drive, Mondays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
AARP Community Resource Center, 3502 Carrollton Ave., Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. by appointment only. Call (504) 485-2164.
East New Orleans Regional Library, 5641 Read Blvd., Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Norman Mayer Library, 3001 Gentilly Blvd., Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Rosa Keller Library, 4300 S. Broad St., Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Metairie Senior Center, 265 N. Causeway Blvd., Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to noon.
Harahan Senior Center, 100 Elodie St., Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Destrehan Regional Library, 160 W. Campus Drive, Tuesdays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Pavilion at Kenner City Park, 3800 Loyola Drive, Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
St John Parish Library, 2920 U.S. 51, Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Edward Dufresne Community Center, 274 Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway, Mondays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Other tax help
Loyola University New Orleans College of Law volunteers are offering free tax preparation assistance for people with low to moderate incomes.
The walk-in sessions, designed by the Internal Revenue Service, continue through April 9 at two locations.
Loyola College of Law, 526 Pine St., Room 111: Sessions will be held Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Mondays and Thursdays from 5 p.m to 7 p.m. No sessions are scheduled for Feb. 4, 6 and 8, or March 24, 26 and 28.
Community Center of St. Bernard Parish, 1111 Le Beau St., Arabi: Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the following dates: Feb. 13, 20 and 27, and March 5 and 19 and April 2.
This location serves the communities of St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans East, the Lower Ninth Ward, and the Bywater and Marigny areas.
For more information, please call the center at (504) 281-2512 for further information.
Loyola’s Volunteer Tax Assistance Program is affiliated with the Asset Building Coalition of Southeast Louisiana and the American Bar Association.
For more information, call (504) 861-5668 or visit the website.