DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Senior citizens take advantage of the AARP Tax-Aide program at Central Union Church. Volunteers help senior citizens with the tax returns. Here, retired accountant Mary Chun looking figures out a tax return.
Kupuna get tax help
A fear of math and the confusion over filling out forms can add to the dread of doing taxes.
For more information on AARP's tax help program call 955-5776 or visit http://www.aarp.org
That's where the experts from the AARP Tax-Aide program can help low- and middle-income taxpayers, mostly senior citizens 60 and older.
AARP is offering help at 24 sites on Oahu and 22 sites on the neighbor islands until April 15, the filing deadline for federal taxes. The state deadline is April 20.
Carolyn Abney, the tax program's administrator, and her sister have loved being volunteers for 10 years because, "The people are so appreciative -- that's the pay. They don't understand how to fill out simple state forms. We do it for them and they think it's just wonderful!"
"It's fear of math. They're afraid of taxes. Period," said her sister, Pat Henderson, a program coordinator.
Priority is given to people 60 and older. People younger than 60 have to wait until older people are helped, even if they were ahead in the line.
The line starts forming at the crack of dawn at the Central Union Church site, one of their busiest locations, even though doors open at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. About a dozen volunteers are able to help roughly 40 to 50 people before doors close at 11:30 a.m., according to Henderson.
"We have too many every day. We have to turn them away," Henderson said, because more people than usual are coming in to file for this year's new federal "economic stimulus" rebate.
Teresa Padilla, 50, didn't mind waiting a couple of hours, because "it's free. You gotta be patient. They do a good job. The people are nice, friendly and helpful.
"I have a fear of math, I've always been bad at math. Math is money. ... I tried doing the form but I couldn't figure it out," she said.
Nearby, Azeza Alladin nodded, laughing in agreement, "Let the experts take care of it. The way they put the instructions is so complicated."
She was one of several homeless people at the program, looking forward to receiving the federal rebate. "I appreciate it (AARP Tax Aide) a whole lot. The volunteers work so hard -- God bless their hearts," Alladin added.
Gregory Traynor, 74, of McCully said he has a learning disability that makes it hard to fill out forms. He was able to do his own tax returns in the past when his claims were simple and the same each year. But filing for "Mr. Bush's new rebate, it's something new and I needed some help," he said.