AARP Tax Aid team honored with MoorHeart Award

Mayor Shelly Carlson presented the May MoorHeart award to AARP’s team of Tax Aid volunteers. Front row, from left:: David Crockett, Mayor Carlson, Tim Wodrich, Pat Walker and Karin Schumacher. Middle row: Harold Vanderbush, Pat Kotta, Shirley White, Roxane Doll and Chuck Burman. Back row: Izo Becic, Peter Larson , Jim Westphal, Mark Doll and Cindy Ostlie. (Photo/Caleb Fugleberg)


Moorhead City Council

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

Sixteen volunteers from the AARP’s Tax Aid program completed 1,300 tax returns for older, low- to moderate-income, New American and special-needs taxpayers over 71 days this year. For their dedication and the priceless service they provided free, the Moorhead City Council awarded the district American Association of Retired Persons team May’s MoorHeart award.
Fourteen men and women from the team were on hand to receive the honor, presented by Mayor Shelly Carlson at Monday’s regular council meeting.
Nominated by the city’s senior center director, Hope Thier, the certified IRS volunteers offered personalized guidance and help in filling and filling the IRS forms. The volunteers met with clients four days a week at the Moorhead Pulic Library and the Moorhead Senior Center at the Hjemkomst, as well as one day per week at Fargo’s Carlson Library. They completed 666 returns at the city library and 353 at the center. Nearly 700 of their clients were 60 and older.
“The AARP Tax Aid program goes back at least 20 years,” says Tim Wodrich, district coordinator for the national organization dedicated to the needs of people ages 50 and older. Sponsored by its North Dakota chapter, the tax assistance was offered in four locales besides Fargo-Moorhead, including Grand Forks-East Grand Forks, Bismarck-Mandan, Minot and Devils Lake.
Volunteers take part in intensive training before tax season begins. “Our people are engineers, schoolteachers, railroad workers, bank personnel – not a single CPS among us,” Wodrich reports. “Ninety percent of the work is done by the software. We know where to enter the data.” Each consultation begins with gathering the necessary information. Then, while the taxpayer waits, the volunteer completes the form, reviews it with the client, and files it electronically. The process usually takes about two hours, depending on the complexity of the return.
Wodrich has been working on the local Tax Aid team for six years. While many of his volunteers are experienced, several newcomers take on the challenge every year. Their hours are dictated by the location hosting them; for the library, that meant working from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Some, like the coordinator, worked from Monday through Thursday from Feb. 1 to April 12. Others set less ambitious schedules, working around other commitments.
While they provided their services here, he notes that clients gathered from all over the region, from an hour to the east in Minnesota to an area bounded by Wahpeton, Valley City and Hillsboro on the North Dakota side.
In her nomination, Thier wrote, “AARP is committed to assisting Moorhead residents through the difficulties of tax season. AARP volunteers have shown continued dedication to serving our community through years of providing this affordable, educational service.”
The city council presents the MoorHeart award each month to a Moorhead citizen or group community “who are doing great things,” according to the website at Nominations for future awards are always welcome.

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