Effort Provides Free Tax Prep to Seniors
All income earning citizens are responsible for filing their taxes, which is frequently done online. Seniors and people with limited incomes may not own computers, have internet access or possess knowledge about online tax programs or filing their taxes in general. In response to this need, members of the Ulster County community have come together to provide tax preparation services for seniors over the age of 55 and people with limited incomes. Woodland Pond, a senior living community in New Paltz, has donated a vacant apartment to be used as a call center, through which all tax preparation appointments are scheduled with volunteer tax preparers at seven sites throughout Ulster County. Woodland Pond residents and members of the outside community volunteer their time to run the call center. Internet and telephone service has been provided by Cornerstone Communications, at no charge to AARP or Woodland Pond. It is truly a community wide effort. “It is important to provide these services for people that cannot afford them, as we all are obligated to file our taxes,” said Vici Danskin, a resident of Woodland Pond at New Paltz and coordinator of the call center operations. “I have been volunteering in the New Paltz community for much of my life, as I think it is important to help people. A typical call at the call center involves getting names and contact information of the people that call. We inform them of all the documents and items they will need to bring with them to their appointments. Then, we schedule a convenient time and location for them. Prior to their appointment, we give them a reminder call. Most of our available appointments for February filled up quickly and March is filling up fast too. We served over 3,000 people last year, so it is important to call as soon as you can to reserve a spot. The last day we will offer these services is April 12.” The number for the call center is (845) 255-0791. The call center operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 1 pm. Should people call the call center any other time, they can leave a voicemail and volunteers will get back to them as soon as possible. It is highly recommended that people call during the hours of operation. Appointments are scheduled for Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. This is Woodland Pond’s second year to donate services and time for operating the call center. “We are so grateful for the services Woodland Pond and other companies are providing to make this program possible,” said Margaret Taylor, a volunteer tax preparer in Ulster County. “If the tax preparers had to also handle calls and appointments, it would take away from the amount of returns we could process. We are grateful for the volunteers and services provided by Woodland Pond at New Paltz. They have been instrumental in helping us throughout the entire process. Their technical personnel set up the computers to go wireless, connected the internet and ensured that the entire system would connect with our computers at the tax preparation sites. Sometimes the idea of filing taxes gives people anxiety, especially if they are not familiar with preparing taxes. I think it is important to assist people who may not be in the best position to file their taxes. Each return varies in complexity, and usually they take 45 minutes to an hour to complete. All tax preparer volunteers are certified and are required to pass exams each year.” “We are delighted to assist with the AARP tax program,” said Michelle Gramoglia, executive director at Woodland Pond. “Residents enjoy volunteering their time to this great cause. It is a beneficial program for fellow seniors and other residents in the surrounding community.” The AARP tax program is in need of additional volunteers for the call center and for preparing taxes. If you are interested in volunteering at the call center, please call Vici Danskin at (845) 255-0791. If you are interested in volunteering your services as a tax preparer, please call Richard Dooley, the district coordinator for the program, at (845) 246-0696. ABOUT WOODLAND POND AT NEW PALTZ Woodland Pond at New Paltz is located in New Paltz, New York, and is a not-for-profit, upscale, continuing care retirement community (CCRC), tailored exclusively for those 62 and over. Nestled beneath the shoulder of the breathtaking Shawangunk Ridge, the community opened in 2009 and is the only CCRC in the Mid-Hudson Valley area. Woodland Pond offers an 83-acre campus that includes a professionally-staffed Health Center and a Community Center with an art studio, fitness center, heated indoor swimming pool, salon, market basket, billiard room, library, woodworking shop, game room, computer lab and more. As a true CCRC, Woodland Pond at New Paltz offers independent living with a choice of a private residence (24 cottages and 177 apartments), services, and amenities. Under Woodland Pond’s Life Care program, residents are provided privileged admission to the assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing center. Life Care functions similar to a long-term care policy wrapped in a healthy and fulfilling resort lifestyle – so that residents can enjoy this chapter of their lives in an inspiring and supportive environment free from worrying about future escalating long-term care expenses. Woodland Pond caters to a diverse group of accomplished individuals with a variety of interests and a zest for life. The community is operated by HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley, an integrated health care system committed to providing quality and compassionate medical care for patients, their families and the Hudson Valley community. For more details, please visit: http://wpatnp.org.