SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It’s that dreaded time of year again — tax time! 

But the good news is that the AARP Foundation’s annual Tax-Aide program is now in full swing, ready to help people prepare right up until the April 15 deadline. 

Gary Jurovich, the state coordinator for the AARP Foundation in Northern California, says highly trained volunteer tax preparers are standing by to help at senior centers, libraries, churches, and government offices up and down the state.  

“All of our new people have to go through extensive training to become certified to do the returns,” he points out. “And all of our returning counselors who come back year after year, they have to go to refresher training every year. Everybody has to pass three different tests.”

Last year, almost 200,000 Californians got free help on their returns. They collected more than $92 million in federal refunds and more than $13 million in Earned Income Tax Credits. 

Nationwide in 2019, those numbers totaled $1.6 billion in refunds and $200 million from the tax credit.

Jurovich says one of the biggest misconceptions is that these services are only for people over 50 or members only.

“Some people think that you have to be an AARP member, which is absolutely not true,” he stresses. “It’s certainly free. A lot of people come in and expect that there’s going to be a fee. It’s not. It’s free. 

“We prepare the returns, both federal and state returns, and then we file the returns electronically.”

To find out documents to bring or to locate a Tax-Aide site near you, go to aarpfoundation.org/taxhelpor call 888-AARPNOW. Disclosure: AARP California contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Senior Issues