Budget cuts could affect free tax preparation services - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Budget cuts could affect free tax preparation services

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Income tax season is in full swing. The deadline to file is nearly two months away, but the IRS warns budget cuts will impact its ability to provide its normal level of customer service. Those with low incomes and senior citizens could be hit the hardest when it comes to getting free tax preparation.

Tax documents and forms can be downright overwhelming.

"It can because I do mine on Turbo Tax and I have questions," said retired teacher Sue Goldstein.

She was pleased to know the IRS once offered free tax help for seniors and those with low incomes.

"I they ought to offer it. I really do," she said.

But that help may now be a thing of the past. Budget cuts are to blame. If you're thinking about picking up the phone, be prepared to wait. The IRS says you could spend quite some time on hold due to reduced staffing.

"We do not provide live telephone assistance at this number," a voice greeting said on a line for the Richmond IRS office.

With the IRS admittedly scaling back its services, there are other groups out there that want seniors to know there are still ways to get help.

"Last year we assisted tax payers in receiving 46.8 million dollars in refunds in Virginia," said Ginger Thompson with the AARP.

It offers free tax preparation. You do not have to be a member.

"We want to make sure taxpayers receive the refunds and credits that they're entitled to and that they file complete and accurate tax returns," Thompson said.

Volunteer tax preparers and computers are on hand at more than 70 sites across the Commonwealth.  That's welcomed news for seniors who just want to follow Uncle Sam's rules.

"You need help every now and then," Goldstein said.

Which may be especially true when you're greeted with voice messages like this.

"Please note that many of our services at this location have changed," the voice greeting said.

The AARP says seniors especially need assistance available since many deal with complicated issues like retirement income, and healthcare deductions.

Click here to find an AARP tax help site near you.

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