Filling out income tax forms is a confusing chore that most people refuse to tackle — unless they’re trained professionals getting paid for the job.

Filling out income tax forms is a confusing chore that most people refuse to tackle — unless they’re trained professionals getting paid for the job.
However, there are those who prepare hundreds of tax forms without charging a penny for their services. They are volunteers for the AARP Tax-Aide Program, which primarily assists the elderly and those with low incomes.
The local program recently honored two volunteers, Ken Burbach and Wilmer E. “Bill” Huffman, with plaques for their many years of service.
Huffman, now an assistant professor emeritus in the Pittsburg State University accounting department, began volunteering with the program in 1982.
“Even while I was still teaching I volunteered as an instructor for the tax aide program,” he said. “After I retired I also had the time to serve as a counselor.”
Huffman also served on the state management team until this year.
Instruction is an important part of the program, according to Harold Thomas, district coordinator covering tax aide sites at Pittsburg, Parsons and Girard.
“Our counselors have been in school this week to become IRS-certified,” Thomas said. “All counselors must pass an IRS test before they can work with our clients.”
“Every year there are hundreds of changes in tax regulations,” Huffman said. “Some of them don’t affect the people we work with, but we have to keep up with them anyway.”
Burbach said he began volunteering with the program in 1986. He had previously owned Cremer Monument Co., then spent several years as manager of Knights of Columbus Tower.
He was local coordinator and electronic return originator for the local program until this year. Bob Backes will take over as local coordinator, and the Rev. Tom Sims will serve as ERO.
Huffman said that the program began offering electronic filing around 10 or 12 years ago.
“However, we still do quite a few paper returns,” he added.
Preparing tax returns may not be the way a lot of people want to spend their retirement years, but there are rewards.
“You get the satisfaction of helping people,” Huffman said.
“What you get out of this is what you put into it,” Burbach said. “We’ve had some people nearly in tears because we did this for them for free.”
Counselors will prepare tax returns from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between Feb. 4 and April 15 at the Pittsburg Public Library. Tax returns will be prepared on a first come/first served basis.
Those wishing to have assistance will need to bring all forms and booklets mailed to them by the IRS or state on income tax matters (those who electronically filed their returns last year will not have federal or state booklets sent to their home); all W2 forms; all 1099-() forms such as 1099-R, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, etc.; all Social Security statements (will have a pink block on the right side); all Social Security cards; a copy of their 2007 tax return; the cost basis and selling price of any stocks, bonds or property sold during the 2008 year; if on SSI, a statement of when they became eligible; a statement of the power of attorney should they be representing a tax payer; the amount of the 2007 Economic Stimulus payment they received.
In addition, those applying for the Homestead Claim will need to also bring one of the following: Their property tax statement or rental information, including name, address and telephone number of their landlord; the amount of rent paid; address of the rental; who lives in the rental with them and their income; and the services they pay that are not included in the rent, such as electricity, gas, etc.