free tax preparation offered by AARP
AARP offers free tax preparation

Tax season is here.  Do you dread filling out those confusing forms?  Are you wondering whether new provisions of the tax code apply to you? Have you put off doing your taxes, even if you expect a refund?

Help is available!  Free tax assistance and preparation for taxpayers with low- and middle- incomes, with special attention to those age 60 and older, is available from AARP Tax-Aide from Feb. 1 through April 17.  You do not need to be a member of AARP or a retiree to use this service.

Tax law can often be confusing.  AARP Tax-Aide volunteers can make the process of filling out tax returns a whole lot easier. Volunteers have gone through a rigorous training program offered in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service, and have the knowledge to help prepare your return taking advantage of the many provisions of the tax code. Well-trained AARP Tax-Aide volunteers will offer assistance with personal income tax returns at more than 150 sites in Washington state this year.  And to speed refunds, we file returns electronically.

Last year, more than 1,200 AARP Tax-Aide volunteers helped more than 81,000 Washington residents file their income tax returns. The program is offered at senior centers, libraries and other convenient locations.

Who uses Tax-Aide? Nationwide about 4 out of 5 (78 percent) are 60 or older, 63 percent are women, and more than half have annual incomes of less than $30,000.  And most of those who use Tax-Aide would have paid to have their returns prepared.

When you visit the site, please bring a copy of last year’s return, all W-2 and 1099 forms including SSA-1099 for Social Security benefits paid, property tax records if applicable, all receipts and canceled checks if itemizing, Social Security cards for yourself and dependents, and if applicable, dependent care provider information including name, employer, and social security number.

AARP Tax-Aide is a program of the AARP Foundation, offered in conjunction with the IRS.  For more information or to locate an AARP Tax-Aide site near you visit or call toll-free 1-888-227-7669.

KWA celebrates Korean Full Moon Festival with music, food

Performers at the Moon Festival
Performers at the KWA Moon Festival wind their way through spectators

The vibrant colors of Hanbok or traditional Korean dress swirled and flowed amongst the more conservative western garb at Korean Women’s Association (KWA) meal site on Sept. 7. Koreans celebrate Chusok or the Korean Full Moon Festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month of the Korean calendar.   The centuries old festival, which runs three days, celebrates the autumn harvest with thanks and gratitude for their ancestors.  For 2011, Chusok fell on Sept. 12 and was celebrated Sept. 11 through Sept 13.

Gongs and drums crashed and thrummed in a clamorous, heavy heartbeat as participants and spectators alike clapped, sang and shouted.   The musicians circled and danced amongst jests and laughter as spectators joined and then left the group in an unorchestrated, organic mass until finally the performers wound their way through the entire room and out the door.

Then the real celebration began.  Koreans enjoy Karaoke in a way it takes many in American a few drinks to achieve.  According to statistics collected in 2009, an average of 1.9 million South Koreans participate in Karaoke each day.  Celeste Lee said, “Koreans love to sing.”  Lee, Program Manager for Social Services at KWA, said that when she gets together with friends, they eat and talk for a while and then they sing.  At first, she admitted she was nervous but as with most things the more you practice, the better you become.  It’s obvious that the twenty or so participants in the Karaoke contest had practiced a great deal.  One participant scored 100 points on the game system that ranks singers on their pitch, timing and rhythm.  Most scored impressively in the high 80s and 90s.  Even to the uninitiated, they sounded impressive.

A short break in the singing occurred just long enough for everyone to enjoy a traditional Korean meal with baked mackerel, chap chae (a popular noodle dish), beef and white radish soup, crescent-shaped rice cakeS and squid seasoned with red peppers, vinegar and garlic.

Although, Chusok is celebrated only once a year, KWA serves traditional Asian foods every week at their two meal sites.  The meal site at 123 East 96th Street in Tacoma serves Korean meals on Wednesdays, international meals on Thursdays and Samoan meals on Fridays.  In addition, Vietnamese meals are served Mondays and Thursday at the Indochinese Cultural and Service Center at 1427 East 40th Street in Tacoma.  That location serves Cambodian meal on Tuesdays and Fridays.   Nearly 300 meals are served each week between the two meal sites.  The 96th Street location can be reached at (253) 535-4202.  The Indochinese site can be reached at (253) 473-5666.

KWA started in 1972 as a Korean women’s social club in Tacoma.  Over the years, KWA has changed from that social club to a social service agency to help Korean women acclimate into American culture and has gradually become an association that assisted the needs of Asian Pacific Islander immigrants and refugees.

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