Free help with tax preps is back, COVID-style

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide has begun taking appointments for its free tax preparation and e-filing services. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic limitations, the traditional face-to-face meeting with a Tax-Aide counselor is being replaced with a contact-free approach.

Anyone wishing assistance with their tax preparation must first make an appointment. Washington  taxpayers can make an appointment by calling 888-OUR-AARP (888-687-2277) and leaving a voicemail message. A volunteer will call back to set up an appointment. Assistance may also be requested through the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide website. (

All tax preparation interactions will take place via telephone and video conferencing. This free service will be offered through April 15.

Tax-Aide is capable of processing most personal tax returns, with some limited exceptions, “for anyone who needs help completing their tax return and filing it electronically,” said Terri Jones of Vancouver, AARP Tax-Aide Washington coordinator in Washington. “Our dedicated and certified volunteers will provide the same high-quality service as in years past, just in a different way to accommodate COVID-19.”

Tax-Aide is an all-volunteer organization whose counselors are trained and certified by the IRS. Last year, they helped more than 25,000 taxpayers in Washington before all sites were closed in mid-March.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide operates the nation’s largest volunteer-run free tax preparation service. Volunteers are IRS-certified every year to ensure they understand the latest changes to the U.S. Tax Code.

In 2020, 1.5 million taxpayers who used AARP Tax-Aide Foundation received more than $1 billion in income tax refunds. They also avoided any tax preparation fees and pitches for high-interest tax credit or “refund loans.” The service is offered in conjunction with the IRS, and AARP membership is not required.


Bruce Carlson, who wrote this article, is AARP Washington’s associate state director of communications.