Our Islands, Our Future

Dorothy Hew

Volunteers with the American Association of Retired Persons Tax Aide Foundation are once again providing free tax preparation assistance. The group on Maui has been providing help for more than 30 years now. “In the early days, we did it by hand. Now we’ve got computers,” said Barbara Workman, a 19-year volunteer and AARP’s district coordinator for the Tax Aide project. The program is open to the public, and all volunteers are certified through the AARP Tax-Aide Program. You do not need to be a member of AARP or a retiree to use the service or to volunteer. AARP targets low- to moderate-income people.

It’s the gratitude shown for the tax return help that has motivated 88-year-old Dorothy Hew, one of the original volunteers who now focuses her time on welcoming walk-in clients at the Kahului Union Church site. “I just feel like we’re helping people who know absolutely nothing about taxes,” Hew said. “These people need help and they appreciate the help.” According to Workman, even the simplest tax return could cost upwards of $100 each if prepared by a tax professional. “We know a lot of people come to us year after year because they simply can’t afford to pay to have their taxes done,” Workman said.

The service is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis Saturdays (except March 30) at Kahului Union Church; and on the second and fourth Mondays at the Kihei Community Center. Tax aide volunteers will also help appointment-only clients at the Kaunoa Senior Center, 270-7308; and the West Maui Senior Center, first and third Tuesdays, 661-9432. Taxpayers need to bring a photo ID and Social Security cards for all family members. If filing married filing jointly, both spouses must be present. Participants also need to bring 2011 federal and state tax returns and current tax documents. Free e-filing of returns can also be done. The AARP Tax Aide Foundation has 24 certified counselors and five client facilitators volunteering this year on Maui. They completed 1,200 tax returns last year and expect to do at least that many again in 2013.