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FARMINGTON – Volunteers are needed to help provide free tax assistance and preparation for individuals who are of low to moderate income.

The annual service, offered by the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service, provides for the preparation of basic federal and state tax returns for individuals who have less than $54,000 in annual income or people with disabilities or who are 60 years and older.

Volunteers can fill various roles, including helping file tax forms electronically, greeting taxpayers and helping organize their paperwork, and setting up and operating computer equipment, according to a press release from the IRS.

IRS spokeswoman Julia Lara said volunteers are required to complete a 40-hour class, which starts in early January. Volunteers receive certification by the IRS at the completion of the course.

Tax preparation sites were available last tax season at the Aztec Senior-Community Center in Aztec, the Bloomfield Senior Center in Bloomfield and the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in Farmington. Across the United States, sites were available in community centers, libraries, schools and similar facilities.

“Our volunteers love doing what they do,” Lara said, adding the program offers flexible hours for volunteers to serve.

Preparation sites typically open in late January and remain open until April 15, according to the AARP website.

The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide has been offering the filing service since 1968. Last year, more than 90,000 people volunteered nationwide and prepared 3.7 million tax returns, IRS spokesman David Tucker said. Tucker added that volunteers offer a “friendly face” to the tax-filing process, and because volunteers receive training from the IRS, they do not need professional experience with the process.

He said volunteers who are bilingual speakers also are needed.

For more information about becoming a volunteer, visit www.aarp.org/taxaide.

During the past tax season, 444 volunteers filed 31,746 federal and 36,340 state returns in New Mexico, according to the IRS press release.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

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