I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the new Massachusetts Tax-Aide State Coordinator.  John Woods, who has been the State Coordinator for many years/terms, is stepping aside, however, he will remain in the program and continue on the State Management Team.  We want to thank him for all the hard work for so many years, especially his willingness to step in when needed.

Many of you might recognize me from our state website and blog, but some don’t realize I’m a volunteer too.  I’m a counselor, ERO, and instructor and have been serving as the Local Coordinator for our site in Lowell plus as the Administrative Coordinator for District 20.

This past year has been a challenging one for everyone with the introduction of TaxSlayer.  There was a lot of testing and training required before the start of the season and, as expected, a lot of on the job training in season.  As a result, returns took longer to prepare and required more manual effort to prepare, review, and efile.  But despite these challenges, state-wide, we successfully efiled over 58,000 returns, split pretty much equally between the IRS and DOR – helping an estimated 38,000 taxpayers.  While this is about a 7.5 percent reduction from the previous year, we are still very pleased and recognize that this the direct result of a lot of time and hard work by all of our volunteers.

So where do we go from here?  The IRS has made the decision to continue with TaxSlayer for next year (realistically the next four years) and AARP National has decided that all AARP Tax-Aide sites must use TaxSlayer.  TaxSlayer has committed to making changes in the off-season:  priority 1 is improving the stability/performance and priority 2 fixing state returns.

Over the next six months, we have a lot to do to prepare for next season – from testing the changes to TaxSlayer, creating/updating training materials and tools, updating the web site, and recruiting new volunteers.   As specific opportunities arise, we’ll post the information on the blog.  If you have any ideas or comments, please let us know.

Joan Gong

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