Free tax help offered at libraries

Our family accountant welcomes A.J. and me into his office every spring, never raising an eyebrow at our envelopes stuffed with crumpled receipts and the vital documents we leave behind year after year.

The one thing we do right is that we don’t wait until the last minute to gift him with the dog-eared paperwork we call our tax records.

He always says that nobody in New Orleans thinks about taxes until after Mardi Gras, and we’re no exception — but we don’t wait until the April 15 filing deadline, either.

Well, it’s that time of year again, and programs have already started around town to help people who need some assistance filling out their forms.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is available free to taxpayers with low and moderate income, with special attention to those 60 and older.

AARP volunteers will be on hand to assist with income tax return preparation at the Latter branch of the library, 5120 St. Charles Ave., and Norman Mayer branch, 3001 Gentilly Blvd., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and at the Algiers Regional branch, 3014 Holiday Drive, Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome. For information, call the AARP at (504) 485-2164.

Meanwhile, the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law is offering its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program again this year at two locations: Uptown near the main campus, and in Arabi.

Sessions uptown are held Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Mondays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., with a break March 28 to April 1 for Easter.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program office is located at Loyola College of Law, Broadway Activities Center, 501 Pine St., Room 202.

For more information, call (504) 861-5668; for directions, call (504) 861-5665.

The program will also offer tax preparation again this year at the Community Center of St. Bernard Parish, 1111 LeBeau St. in Arabi. This location serves the communities of St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans East, the Lower Ninth Ward and the Bywater and Marigny areas.

Sessions take place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 23, March 2, March 16, March 23 and April 6. For more information on sessions in Arabi, call (504) 281-2512 or (504) 861-5668.

Those attending tax preparation sessions should bring identification, Social Security cards for each member of their household, tax returns and all other tax documents, including W-2 forms, 1099 forms and Social Security statements.

Most of the tax help locations close a week or so before the filing deadline, and they get busier as it gets closer.

So why put it off? Your refund may be waiting.

Annette Sisco is community editor. She can be reached at asisco@theadvocate.com or (504) 432-9257.