The Mid-Shore branch of the AARP Tax-Aide program, which provides free federal and state tax-preparation services to taxpayers in Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot and Caroline counties, is suspending in-person tax services for the 2020 tax season.

The tax season begins Feb. 1.

“We are greatly saddened to take this step,” said District Coordinator Jeff Haertlein of Easton in a news release. “We know how much taxpayers on the Shore have come to rely on our services; but the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic simply will not allow us to open our tax preparation sites safely for our clients and our volunteers.”

Haertlein said there will be two forms of assistance available through the AARP website, www.aarp.org. Both methods will be free to the taxpayer and will be available beginning in early February.

Taxpayers will be interact with Tax-Aide’s IRS-certified tax counselors online or by

phone and exchange documents electronically.

Tax-Aide also provides taxpayers with free access to software so they can

prepare their own taxes. Taxpayers also can request help from an IRS-certified

counselor to coach them through the process by phone or through computer screen-

sharing.

“We wanted to make this announcement early enough that taxpayers can find other means of preparing their taxes,” Haertlein said. “AARP is still committed to providing tax-preparation assistance, but that aid will have to be on-line and virtual.”

As to the future, Haertlein said that if conditions permit a return to in-person tax preparation this year, his organization will announce how and where assistance will be available.

“And we certainly hope to be back in full swing a year from now for the 2021 tax season,” he said in the release.

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