By Johnny Jackson
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) plans to provide weekend hours for taxpayers who may have difficulty scheduling a visit with an IRS taxpayer assistance center during normal weekday business hours.
"We know some people are facing challenging economic times, and we want to provide extra assistance on these Saturdays," said IRS Spokesman Mark Green. "Our goal is to help them get what they need from the IRS."
On Saturday, during the IRS's Open House weekend, taxpayers may visit centers at four different area locations.
Three locations are in metro Atlanta -- at Summit, 401 W. Peachtree St.; at Smyrna, 1899 Powers Ferry Rd.; and at the IRS Koger office, 2888 Woodcock Blvd, in Atlanta. Green said another office is located in Columbus, Ga., at 3604 Macon Rd.
The IRS plans to host an additional Saturday Open House on March 26, he said. Both Open House events will be held between the hours of 9 a.m., and 2 p.m.
The purpose of the events, according to Green, is to provide free assistance to taxpayers who need help getting information required to file their tax returns.
"There are many tax credits and deductions that may help individuals struggling in tough economic times, to save money on their taxes this year," he said.
Green said site-based officials will be available to help with account questions, like collection or examination issues. IRS employees will also be available to provide some virtual assistance over the telephone. Limited help preparing tax forms may be available on a first-come, first-served basis as well.
The IRS official pointed to other free services provided by the federal agency's affiliates, who provide free income tax return preparation, and electronic filing, each year during tax season. The IRS's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Programs assist taxpayers who earned $49,000 or less, while its Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs assist individuals, age 60 and over.
Green noted the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) -- an IRS affiliate that participates in its TCE Programs -- assists taxpayers through its AARP Tax-Aide, a free tax-preparation service established in 1968.
"Tax law can often be confusing. AARP Tax-Aide volunteers can make the process of filling out tax returns a lot easier," said Georgia's Tax-Aide State Coordinator, Richard Cramer.
AARP Tax-Aide volunteers are trained in cooperation with the IRS. Cramer said they helped over 2 million taxpayers file their federal, state and local tax returns last season.
Tax return help is available until April 18, at 125 AARP Tax-Aide sites statewide, including in Clayton and Henry counties, according to Cramer.
Clayton County locations include the Frank Bailey Senior Center, at 6213 Riverdale Rd., in Riverdale, and Morrow First United Methodist Church, at 5985 N. Main St., in Morrow. Hours at the senior center are from 10 a.m., until 3 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays. Assistance is available at the church from 10 a.m., until 2 p.m., on Saturdays. For more information, contact the senior center at (678) 479-5505, or Morrow First United Methodist Church at (770) 961-4668.
Locations in Henry County include the Heritage Senior Center, at 1050 Florence McGarity Blvd., in McDonough, and Hidden Valley Senior Center, at 600 Spraggins Memorial Pkwy., in Stockbridge. The hours of operation at the McDonough site are from 9 a.m., until 1 p.m., on Mondays. For the Stockbridge site, hours are from 9 a.m., until 3 p.m., on Thursdays. Contact the Stockbridge site at (770) 288-7002, or the McDonough site at (770) 288-7001.
Cramer said tax filers do not need to be members of AARP, nor retired, to use the Tax-Aide service. However, filers should bring social security cards for themselves and any dependents, a copy of last year's return, W-2 forms from each employer, and unemployment compensation statements, as well as all 1099 forms, dependent care cost documentation and any forms indicating federal tax paid.
The Tax-Aide official said receipts and canceled checks will be needed if itemizing deductions.
To learn more about the AARP Tax-Aide Program, visit www.aarp.org/taxaide, or call (888) 227-7669. For more about the IRS Open House events, visit www.IRS.gov, or call (800) 906-9887.