By EKATERINE TCHELIDZE
Chronicle Staff Writer
LEBANON/COLUMBIA â€” Due to a lack of volunteers, the Lebanon and Columbia senior centers might not be able to offer tax aid next year, which has been a problem in recent years.
The senior center annually participates in the AARP Foundation Tax Aide Program, which supports low-income seniors with tax preparation services offered at about 91 sites throughout the state. This includes senior centers, libraries and more.
But to have that service, the program needs volunteers.
â€śIn order to have tax aid, volunteers need to come forward this year for training,â€ť the AARP foundation said in a press release.
Lebanon Senior Center Coordinator Darcy Battye said Lebanon has had the program since 2010 and a lot of seniors used to benefit from it.
â€śWe had probably about 50 to 60 seniors who came through to have their taxes done here,â€ť Battye said.
But for the past two years, there havenâ€™t been any volunteers to do the job. â€śWe didnâ€™t have anyone last year and thereâ€™s no one this year, so this is our plea to get people to step forward and do the tax preparation,â€ť Battye said.
Battye said AARP needs local volunteers to serve local people, but training takes about a year.
Thatâ€™s why the foundation started its search now so there are trained volunteers ready for next year.
Columbiaâ€™s Beckish Senior Center and other surrounding towns are facing the same problem, Beckish coordinator Bernadette Derring said.
â€śWe are definitely looking for volunteers and it was really sad last year. We did not have any,â€ť Derring said.
Derring said the program existed in the senior center for more than 10 years and a lot of seniors benefited from it.
â€śItâ€™s extremely popular and we even had waiting lists of over 25 people per week,â€ť Derring said.
Currently, the AARP Foundation is looking for volunteer tax preparers, client facilitators, interpreters and individuals who can provide technical and management support.
Every level of experience is welcomed and volunteers will have to go through tax preparation training and IRS certification.
According to the AARP Foundation, this year, 562 volunteers in Connecticut helped more than 31,000 people file their federal and state tax returns.
Currently, the program has 35,000 volunteers, serving 2.5 million taxpayers annually at more than 5,000 sites nationally.
Taxpayers donâ€™t need to be a member of AARP or a retiree to use the program.
For more information about volunteer opportunities, visit www.aarpfoundation.org/taxaide.