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AARP Tax Aide program opening March 1

Staff Writer | February 25, 2021 1:00 AM

The free tax aide program that has been postponed due to the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases at the beginning of the year has finally been scheduled to open.

Come March 1, the AARP Tax Aide program — which offers free tax assistance and preparation to low-and-moderate-income taxpayers of all ages — will launch in four locations across Kootenai County. AARP will open a location at the Lake City Center in Coeur d’Alene Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Harding Center at 411 N 15th in Coeur d’Alene will host the program on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Harding location will replace the Silver Lake Mall location, which will not host the program this year.

The Post Falls Senior Center will host the program on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Meanwhile, the Rathdrum Senior Center will host the Tax Aide program on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition to the four Kootenai County sites, AARP will also staff a Tax Aide program in Kellogg on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

But those accustomed to attending the yearly assistance program will need to prepare themselves: This year’s set-up will look fundamentally different than in years’ past.

“All sites are by appointment only this year,” said Karen Cummings, district manager of AARP’s Tax Aide North Idaho program. “Due to COVID-19, there will not be the usual in-person tax preparation. The taxpayer will fill out forms and talk to a tax counselor, drop off their tax documents, have the tax return prepared outside their presence, and agree to be available by phone during tax return preparation. Upon completion the taxpayer will review the tax return with a certified counselor and sign documents.”

The program is usually a fixture by early February, but COVID-19 forced AARP to create protocols when to open its annual tax assistance program. Its national headquarters uses data analyzed by Johns Hopkins to determine whether or not to open its doors at facilities nationwide. The university and medical center has kept Kootenai County in epidemic levels. Those numbers have sharply dropped, however, since the beginning of the new year.

To schedule an appointment for a location of your choosing, please call one of the following numbers:

Lake City Senior Center: 208-667-4628

Harding Center: 208-446-6997

Post Falls Senior Center: 208-773-9582

Rathdrum Senior Center: 208-687-2028

Kellogg: 208-786-9010