Free Tax Aide program assists low-income residents with their tax returns

Winter finally kicked in this week, with spring more than two months away, there’s another season on the horizon, tax season. If paying a professional to help file your tax return only adds to your stress level,  there are local resources to assist. The Midland branch of the AARP Tax Aide program is a volunteer-run organization which provides assistance to low to moderate income seniors over the age of 50, and low-income families. The annual program features IRS-certified tax aide volunteers, and offers individual tax appointments available February 1st through April 11th.
The new year means a new tax season.
Bill Leikhim is the local coordinator of the Midland branch of the AARP Tax Aide program. Leikhim has been involved for the last seven or eight years, but he says the program has been around for nearly 40 years. 

“It’s been a very well-received community program in Midland County,” Leikhim says, “Our goal is to provide free, in-person tax preparation and e-filing services for almost all types of low-moderate income levels, regardless of age.”

Although the program is a local branch of the national AARP Foundation Tax Aide program, Leikhim says it’s important to note that they’ll provide help for Michigan taxpayers of all ages, not just the elderly population, typically associated with AARP.

“It’s not just for seniors,” he says. “We do get support from the AARP Foundation, but the spectrum of our clients ranges. Last year, the youngest client we had was 14 years old, and the oldest client was 100 years old. The breadth is pretty wide.”

During COVID, the program virtually assisted residents in e-filing their taxes, completing 1,000 returns. Last year marked the return of in-person appointments, and this year, the program has a goal to assist 1,400 families. 

Team of Tax-Aide volunteers
Leikhim says all of the 45 volunteer tax counselors are certified by the IRS, and areup-to-date with all the latest tax changes, including two major changes to Michigan filers. As a result of the March 2023 Lowering MI Cost Plan law, more seniors will be eligible to subtract some or all of their pension income from Michigan taxes. Historically, seniors had to be 78 years or older to subtract pension income from taxes, but now those 65 and older may be eligible. This can reduce state income tax bills for some seniors by over $1,200. 

Another change this year impacts working families, who can get a boost from a new tax bill, the Working Families Tax Credit. This can directly benefit nearly one million kids and 700,000 families with an average combined tax refund of $3,150. 

Leikhim says there are a few tax credits available this year that families can take advantage of to help them keep more money in their pockets. The MI Homestead Property Tax Credit -allows a maximum Total Household Resources is $67,300 for tax year 2023. The Michigan EITC is a tax benefit for qualified working individuals and families that have an income level below a certain level.

“It’s intended to help put more money back into the hands of these taxpayers by reducing the amount they owe on their taxes. The recent legislation change took the credit from 6% to 30%,” he says. 

Appointments are available at two separate locations: the Midland Community Center on Tuesday/Thursday and the Coleman Area Library on Wednesday. To schedule an appointment or for more information, call 989-832-7937, ext. 6. 

Residents can pick up an intake form, and return with all their tax documents for their appointment. Each return gets reviewed by a senior Tax Aide  member, and it will be electronically filed the same day. Appointments typically take an hour or an hour and a half, and are available through April 11th.

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Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at