Free tax service in Molalla prepares for season, seeks volunteers
The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide helped 75 families prepare their taxes for free in Molalla last year, and they're looking to do it again, but they need a little help.
The foundation, which is the largest, free, in-person tax preparation service, works with the Molalla Adult Community Center to offer services in Molalla, providing help for anyone who cannot afford paid tax services.
"To see the number of families and seniors that we have been able to serve has really been amazing," said Cecily Rose, director of the Molalla Adult Community Center. "So many people do not do their taxes simply because they cannot afford to get them done…it's kind of sad to think that they would skip that return or refund coming to them just because they couldn't afford that small fee to get taxes done, and so this is a great opportunity for them to be able to afford it and then see a blessing come their way."
And those blessings don't go unappreciated in Molalla.
"I think that people are insanely grateful, and that's the best part of the program, is just how appreciative they are," Rose said.
Rose brought the program back to Molalla three years ago after a recipient approached her about it. So Rose reached out to the AARP foundation, and they were eager and excited to return to the city.
The program also brings money to Molalla in the form of tax refunds.
"We've seen more refunds come back to the community, and I love that too because I think any money that's actually coming directly back to our community is just helping the economy of Molalla, which I love to see," Rose said.
But the program is led by and dependent upon volunteers.
"Without them we cannot help local families get tax refunds that they are entitled to," said Steve Hochspeier, the district coordinator for AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. "Our limitation in helping is the lack of volunteers."
He added, "We are looking for compassionate and friendly individuals to join our volunteer team."
The available volunteer positions include client facilitators and counselors. Client Facilitators welcome taxpayers, help organize their paperwork and manage the overall flow of service. Counselors work with taxpayers directly by filling out tax returns.
The foundation provides complete training and support for those who step forward to help, so prior experience is not required. Counselors will receive their IRS certification as a result of the training.
Those interested in volunteering can visit the volunteer page of their website. The training takes place in January for the upcoming season that starts in February.
For those interested in taking advantage of the free tax service, the season will run from Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 to Wednesday, April 11 at the Molalla Adult Community Center. Appointments can be made starting in January by calling the adult center at 503-829-6530.
"You'll get personal attention from a real person until your taxes are completed," Hochspeier said. "We'll even transmit your forms directly to the IRS."