Tax help program finds new home

CHAMPAIGN — Residents of the Champaign-Urbana area who need help filing taxes can get it from AARP Tax-Aide volunteers at the Stevick Senior Center in downtown Champaign, beginning Feb. 6.

Volunteers will be at the center, 48 Main St., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, starting Feb. 6 and ending April 14, said Hal Loebach, technology coordinator for AARP Tax-Aide in downstate Illinois.

In past years, tax help was offered at Urbana's Lincoln Square Village, but space wasn't available there this year, so volunteers moved to the Stevick Center.

Loebach said parking will be available in a city lot on the north side of Main Street and at a lot north of the old train station. People can also park in metered spaces along the street.

But Loebach recommended that people use Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District buses to get there, calling it "the most convenient" option.

Twenty-two new volunteers this year have bolstered the ranks of volunteers in Champaign County to "close to 40," he said.

Last year, local AARP Tax-Aide volunteers helped more than 2,000 residents file their taxes, Loebach said.

That was down from the 2,400 to 2,500 of previous years because a volunteer shortage last year forced the program to cut its hours.

Loebach said people seeking help should bring a copy of last year's tax returns, regardless of who prepared them.

They should also bring a Social Security card for everyone listed on the return, including dependents.

Also needed: all statements of income, including W-2 forms, interest and dividend statements, as well as statements of income from Social Security and unemployment compensation.

Those who itemize deductions should bring documentation, he added.

Volunteers can handle returns for fairly common situations, but filers should not expect them to handle complex cases — for instance, farm and rental income that involves depreciation, Loebach said.

The only weekdays that volunteers won't be on hand are days on which the Champaign and Urbana school districts cancel classes due to weather, Loebach said.

In addition to the tax help site in Champaign, AARP Tax-Aide volunteers will offer their services at other locations in Champaign County, including the Rantoul, Mahomet, Philo and Tolono libraries. But clients need to call those libraries to arrange appointments.

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