Lawrence AARP and other local organizations offering free tax preparation services

photo by: Mike Yoder

In this file photo from Feb. 20, 2014, AARP Tax-Aide volunteer Jim McMurray, left, assists John Cronin, Baldwin City, with tax forms, while other customers complete the process in the background at the Lawrence Senior Center.

As year-end tax forms arrive in mailboxes and inboxes, local residents can turn to several organizations for free tax preparation services.

One of the largest free tax services is provided by AARP Tax-Aide, which will have 80 volunteers on hand in the Lawrence area, according to AARP District Coordinator Sarah Merriman. She said it was an important service, especially for those who may not be able to afford assistance.

“It makes a huge impact in the lives of people in the community,” Merriman said. “For people of low income, not having to pay for tax prep is a really big deal.”

AARP specializes in serving people who are more than 60 years old, but is open to all ages and non-AARP members, Merriman said. She said the program was geared toward low- and middle-income people, but there is no stated income limit. However, restrictions exist on what types of taxes AARP volunteers can assist with.

Merriman said the program couldn’t assist with any taxes that involve appreciation, meaning that those with rental properties or farms would be excluded. Volunteers can help with itemized deductions, stock transactions and filings for self-employed people as long as they don’t have employees and don’t have a net loss. Program volunteers are trained in cooperation with the IRS, according to the program’s website.

Tax prep assistance is by appointment, and Merriman said people could make an appointment beginning Tuesday by calling 785-691-9737. She said if people had questions about whether AARP could assist with their tax situation, they could call 785-813-1136.

In Lawrence, AARP tax prep help will be provided at Central United Methodist Church, 1501 Massachusetts St. Merriman said it’s expected the organization will help 2,500 Lawrence residents file their taxes over the span of about 10 weeks. Services will also be provided at locations in Baldwin City, Ottawa and Oskaloosa.

Though the federal government only recently ended the longest shutdown in U.S. history, it’s expected that tax filings will be handled as usual. The Internal Revenue Service will begin processing returns Jan. 28 and provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled, according to the IRS website. The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is April 15.

A bill was signed Friday by President Donald Trump to reopen the government for three weeks while lawmakers continue negotiations over potential funding of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Other organizations providing free tax preparation services include the Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas and the University of Kansas Legal Services for Students. Free online tax preparation software, provided by H&R Block and the United Way, is available for those who made below $66,000 last year at


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