Tax time aide: Volunteer has prepared taxes for decades

Thirty years ago, Grace Ingram retired from her career at Bluegrass Station. Little did she know she was about to embark on another career, at least for two and a half months of the year.

Ingram, originally from Middlesboro, has been an AARP Tax-Aide volunteer for the last three decades in Winchester, helping people prepare their income tax returns and checking the work of other preparers. Ingram has become a fixture in the local office, at Central Baptist Church’s annex on West Lexington Avenue.

“I see people in Kroger and places who ask me, ‘Will you be there this year?’” she said. “I enjoy being here.”

During her working years, Ingram said she always prepared her family’s tax return,

“That’s why I thought I would enjoy this job,” she said.

She learned about the program through an item in The Winchester Sun about the local program needing volunteers, she said. After passing the required test, she was told there wasn’t a spot in one office, but she called the group at Central Baptist. And the rest is history.

The AARP Tax-Aide Foundation, which is partially funded by the Internal Revenue Service, meets in the annex on Mondays and Tuesday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.  starting on the first Monday of February and continuing through the federal tax deadline.

In 2017, the office prepared 560 returns, Ingram said, which is about normal for the staff of nine volunteers.

To volunteer, Ingram and the others have to pass a test from the IRS annually, she said. The test also serves as a refresher before launching into tax season.

Through the years, the tax code has become much more complex, she said. The addition of computers in 1997 allowed volunteers to begin filing returns electronically as well.

Ingram is one of those who mainly checks returns prepared by other volunteers, though she still does some returns herself.

“I enjoy the people I work with,” she said. “I enjoy the clients. I enjoy being here.”