by Mona Shand

KANSAS CITY - With summer just winding down, tax season might not yet be on your mind, but it definitely is for those who help recruit and train volunteers to provide free tax preparation assistance to tens of thousands of low-to-moderate income Missourians. Bob Juergens, central region coordinator with the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program, says volunteers don't need to be tax experts, they simply need to be willing to help their fellow Missourians.

"First of all they've got to like people," Juergens says. "If they're going to be a tax preparer with us, it's best if they like to work with numbers, and if they have some comfort level using a computer."

In addition to tax preparers, the program also needs volunteer greeters and people who can speak Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese. All volunteers will go through training, which typically takes place in January. Details can be found at "" or by calling 1-888-AARP-NOW.

Last year, more than 600 volunteers helped 63,000 Missourians of all ages file their federal, state, and local tax returns at 127 sites across the state. But Juergens says that's just the tip of the iceberg.

"We keep trying to expand the program because the need greatly exceeds the service that we're able to provide, and we're limited by the number of volunteers we're able to get," he says.

Volunteers are asked to commit to a minimum of 40 hours over the course of the tax season which runs from February to mid-April. Juergens says many find they want to serve much more.

"You can't go through a day working at a tax site without ending up with a smile on your face at some point. The people are just very very grateful we're there," he says.

Just as the Tax-Aide program is open to all Missourians, Juergens adds, volunteers do not need to be A-A-R-P members or retirees.

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