Tax-Aide program helps hundreds
All 10 of the volunteers who work with him to provide help with preparation of local returns are in their 70s. He would like to entice some younger recruits in time for next year’s tax season.
The free program helps more than 500 clients a year. It operates from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to noon Fridays and Saturdays during February, March and the first half of April, approaching the April 15 deadline.
People begin calling for appointments in January. As the end of the season nears, the program always becomes fully booked.
The AARP donates supplies and the IRS contributes tax preparation software. The senior center provides space, computers and appointment-taking services.
The IRS and AARP both provide auditing services. A Portland representative from the IRS just dropped in Thursday to look over this year’s operation, in fact.
In addition to those who assist with actual preparation of returns, two facilitators, Pat Baker and Paul Tilp, help clients assemble all of the necessary paperwork.
Tilp is new to the McMinnville team, but Welch termed him “the granddaddy of us all.” That’s because he spent 25 years with the program in Colorado, rising to the rank of state coordinator, before moving to McMinnville to take up residence at Hillside.
“Most of the people who come here really appreciate what we do,” said Tilp. “We try to do our best as volunteers.” He also commended Welch for running a “very tight and well-organized ship.”
Welch said the program is designed primarily for seniors citizens and the low-income, but anyone meeting basic eligibility requirements can utilize the service. He said some of the volunteers have backgrounds in accounting or tax preparation, but that certainly isn’t necessary.
“I’m an Air Force pilot and maintenance officer,” he said. “I came here to work for Evergreen.”
He said he started in tax assistance helping soldiers in his squadron through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, known as VITA.
Those willing to consider such service need to participate in a week-long training program held in McMinnville each January and pass a test afterward.
“If you’ve done your own, you’ll probably pass the test,” Welch said. All you need, he said, is “an interest in taxes.”
Volunteers can choose to invest anywhere for one half day each week to the full menu of two full days and two half days.
“There’s no incentive other than helping people,” Welch said. “It feels good to save somebody some money, especially in this time.”
Those interested in more information can contact Welch at 503-852-6257 or firstname.lastname@example.org.