Free tax aid offered to taxpayers

News staff writer

February 4, 2006

Beginning Feb. 2, IRS-trained volunteers are offering tax assistance in most Oregon and Washington counties to eligible taxpayers.

Tax-Aide is administered through the AARP Foundation in cooperation with IRS and the Oregon Department of Revenue, is designed to help most elderly, low-income, limited English proficiency and disabled taxpayers with the preparation of their basic tax returns.

In addition, many people who have income under $37,263 and qualify for the refundable Earned Income Credit (EIC) may have their returns prepared for them by the IRS volunteers.

Electronic filing (e-filing) will also be available in this area to help participants get their refunds faster. E-filing also reduces processing errors and gives confirmation that the participant’s return has been received.

Interested taxpayers should bring:

* Picture identification for yourself and spouse, if married filing jointly;

* Social Security card(s) or Taxpayer Identification Number(s) for you, your spouse and all dependents;

* Copy of last year’s tax return (very important — helps volunteer prepare this year’s return);

* Form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement) from each employer;

* Forms 1099-INT or 1099-DIV (to report interest and dividends);

* SSA-1099 or RRB-1099 (to report Social Security and railroad retirement);

* 1099-R (to report pension income);

* List of your medical expenses, taxes, interest, contributions, and miscellaneous expenses (to itemize your deductions);

* For ERA form: landlord information and amount of rent, utilities, and fuel paid in 2005;

* The Multnomah County tax return package if you lived in Multnomah County in 2005.

* Elderly Rental Assistance (ERA) forms and information, which will be mailed to most eligible participants.

Below is a list of locations and times for AARP Tax-Aide. Those who cannot get to a site may request a home visit by calling Lindesay Crooks for an appointment, 386-4624.

Hood River

* Hood River Adult Center

2010 Sterling Drive, 386-2060

Walk-in: Mondays and Tuesdays, 6-8 p.m.; Thursdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Bilingual help available

* Hood River County Library 502 State St.

Walk-in: Mondays and Tuesdays, 6-8 p.m. Bilingual help available


* Parkdale Community Center

7300 Clear Creek Road, 352-6525

Walk in: second and fourth Wednesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. Bilingual help available

White Salmon

* Klickitat County Senior Services

157 N.E. East Ave., (509) 493-3068.

By appointment: second and fourth Wednesdays

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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