AARP offering drive-in taxes for kupuna
KALAHEO — Coleen Kasperek, the Kaua‘i district coordinator for the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program, said Monday, the first day of the Tax Aide program, was pretty crazy with phone calls.
“We had more than 35 phone calls,” Coleen said. “And, this is just the first day. The appointments are filling quickly for the first days we’ll be doing the taxes.”
The Tax-Aide phone number of (808) 481-8017 became effective, Monday and is the link for tax assistance for kupuna ages 50 and older, with emphasis on moderate to low-income taxpayers. Phone calls will be accepted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for appointment scheduling. The first day Tax-Aide preparers will work on returns will be Feb. 22 starting at 9 a.m., and will continue through the end of March.
This is one of the changes effected by Tax-Aide in consideration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“There will be no walk-ins,” Coleen said. “Everything will be by appointments. Clients can come in on their appointed time, drop off the needed paperwork, then they wait in their cars while the tax preparers work on the taxes. We don’t keep any of the data so they need to come and pick up the prepared forms once it’s done.”
Brian Kasperek, the program’s “Techie,” said pandemic-inspired changes is like drive-in taxes.
“We get our second dose of vaccine, next week,” Brian said. “And within two weeks, we’re working on taxes. But everyone still has to wear face masks, observe social distancing, and sanitizing. And, no walk-ins — only by appointments.”
He said in years prior to COVID-19, the Kaua‘i Tax-Aide program handled more than 400 preparations, annually between late February through March. In 2020, Tax-Aide opened and handled about 300 preparations before being shut down by the pandemic.
“We didn’t know what to expect, this year,” Coleen said. “We’ve been recruiting people, but we only five certified tax preparers. Brian is the techie so we’ll probably not get much from him. We lost five preparers from last year because they chose not to participate, this year.”
Additionally, the site locations will not be advertised, but instead, be told to the client once an appointment is secured.
“The tax preparers will be inside the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, in one of the meeting rooms and socially distanced,” Coleen said. “The clients will have to wait in their cars. There is no walk-in. We have to extend our mahalo to the county for use of the facilities, and the Hanapepe Public Library whose meeting room is separate from the library and won’t create interaction with library users.”
Coleen encouraged people to call early to schedule their appointments because the first day of preparation is already pretty filled.