Dupage Policy Journal

Dupage Policy Journal

Monday, February 17, 2020

Free tax services from AARP come with security risks, advocacy group reports

Community

By April Bamburg | Feb 12, 2020

Taxes

The Naperville Park District is providing free tax-filing assistance for senior citizens through the AARP's Tax-Aide program, according to Naperville Patch.

Appointments will be available through April 8, in 45- minute slots between 9 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center, 305 W. Jackson Ave. Individuals can register for appointments by calling 630-848-5000 or by visiting www.napervilleparks.org, clicking “online registration” and searching for “tax appointment.”

Although the tax preparation and filing service is free, participants should be aware of the potential risks that come with programs like this, says the 60-Plus Association, which has heard from former AARP Tax-Aide volunteers that there are potential issues in data security and protection. The 60-Plus Association issued a release on Feb. 10, detailing its concerns about the safety and security of Tax-Aide participants’ information once their taxes are filed.

Volunteers who have left the Tax-Aide program in other states have raised concerns that the AARP Foundation could use taxpayer data to make money. The policies in place with Tax-Aide allow the AARP access to participants’ full tax returns, addresses and other sensitive information, and the 60-Plus Association notes that AARP receives royalties from other corporations, nearly $1 billion each year, and that includes almost $700 million from UnitedHealth for sales of Medigap plans to senior citizens.

“There are some very serious red flags regarding the AARP’s tax program, and America’s seniors should be extremely cautious when considering whether or not to participate,” Chairman and Founder of the American Association of Senior Citizens James Martin told East Central Texas News. “Volunteers within the program itself have raised significant data and privacy concerns, and seniors should be aware of these issues as they make decisions regarding their tax filings.”

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