Nora Laughlin, who has volunteered for the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program for over a decade says volunteers for the free tax preparation help service are needed in Juneau. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Nora Laughlin, who has volunteered for the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program for over a decade says volunteers for the free tax preparation help service are needed in Juneau. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Tax return preparers badly need volunteers

• Top volunteer Nora Laughlin steps down after decade of providing tax help • Tax-Aides provide free service for low-income, elderly

Nora Laughlin was part of a team that would help 50 people with their tax returns in one day.

But the longtime AARP Foundation Tax-Aide preparer and recent recipient of open-heart surgery is hoping to slow down and relinquish her lead role with Juneau’s Tax-Aides.

“I just can’t lead it anymore,” Laughlin said in an interview. “I can still help out. I love it. I love helping people.”

However, she might have to continue leading the efforts this year if new tax preparers don’t step up before the impending tax season.

“We need volunteers,” Laughlin said.

The Tax-Aide program is a collaboration between the American Association of Retired Persons Foundation and the Internal Revenue Service. It offers free help filing tax returns through the use of IRS-certified volunteers. It is primarily intended to benefit low-income and elderly people.

However, Laughlin said there are no age or income limits on the program.

The Tax-Aide preparers cannot help prepare complex tax forms — people with business profits and losses, capital gains and losses or owners of rental properties are generally out. More information about what the volunteers can and can’t prepare can be found online at

The tax preparers can also help people understand letters they have received from the IRS, Laughlin said.

Last year, from early February to mid-April Juneau Tax-Aides offered help two days per week in Nugget Mall, Laughlin said. This year, limited volunteer availability might reduce the days help is available to one day per week.

[Capital City Fire/Rescue needs volunteers]

Laughlin said she is also waiting to hear whether they will again be able to use space in Nugget Mall this tax season.

“If we don’t get that, I don’t know what we’ll do,” Laughlin said.

The IRS provides the equipment the tax preparers use, and Laughlin said it tends to be heavy, so a space that can be locked overnight is necessary. Otherwise, volunteers have to move and set up the equipment at the beginning and end of the day.

That’s the reason Laughlin said the tax preparers switched years ago from being located at a library to the mall.

“We’re pretty much old people, so it really got too difficult,” Laughlin said.

Becoming a volunteer

No previous tax preparation experience is needed to volunteer.

Before Laughlin began helping others with their taxes more than a decade ago, she didn’t even file her own taxes.

“I’m proof a person can start from nothing,” Laughlin said.

She was encouraged to pursue being a volunteer tax preparer by friends when she lived in Idaho, and the retired chief landscape architect for Alaska for the USDA Forest Service continued to help folks file their taxes when she came to Juneau.

Laughlin said the training required to become certified by the IRS, as all the Tax-Aide preparers are, may take someone with no background a few weeks to complete.

Willingness to learn can go a long way, though.

“What we need are people who would like to take the training,” said carolyn Brown, council member for Juneau AARP. “We don’t need IRS people.”

Laughlin said retired financial professional would likely find it easy to quickly become certified.

Those interested in volunteering can find out more by calling 1-888-687-2277 or visiting, and Laughlin can be reached by email at

Other local source for tax help

There aren’t a ton of other local resources for free tax help, Laughlin said.

Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority confirmed it also offers assistance with taxes this year, said Desiree Jackson, director of tribal services, but Jackson said she was unaware of another entity that would be providing similar services.

“We’re definitely still going to put it on, and we’ll actually be traveling out to some of our villages,” Jackson said. “It’s generally focused on low-income people, but we don’t close the door on anyone.”

Juneau Public Libraries will not be the site of free tax help.

The housing authority does not yet have an exact schedule but, Jackson said the service typically starts in February and runs through April. Assistance is anticipated to take place at the housing authority’s Jenkins Drive location.

Typically, Jackson said the free help is available during a weekday, and there are usually a few “super Saturdays” included, too.

Jackson said typically the service is popular.

“We’ll have a long line of people,” Jackson said. “It’s a high-demand thing for sure. It’s busy days for us for sure.”

• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for t​​he Week of Sept. 17

Here’s what to expect this week.

Photo of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Jarvis, date unknown. (Courtesy of Jack Hunter/ All Present and Accounted For)
Of things Jarvis, heroic men and reindeer

Author Steven Craig giving a talk on David Jarvis and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Jarvis

Eleven of the 14 candidates seeking four seats on the Juneau Assembly in the Oct. 3 municipal election answer questions during a forum Friday night at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly candidates challenged to offer plan of action, not just talk, at Tlingit and Haida forum

11 of 14 contenders for four seats get extra time to respond to some tough questioning.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly was in full attendance sporting the color pink while conducting a meeting in early July in honor of departing member Carole Triem. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Juneau Assembly attendance report card: Bryson, Hale and Smith get perfect scores

Members talk importance of getting involved during meetings, commitment to long hours.

Rachel Carrillo Barril, chef de cuisine at In Bocca al Lupo, tosses dough for a pizza Tuesday evening. The downtown restaurant was named by the New York Times on Monday as one of “the 50 places in the United States that we’re most excited about right now.” It is the first time a restaurant in Alaska has earned a spot on the annual list that debuted in 2021. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
In Bocca al Lupo named one of top 50 U.S. restaurants by the New York Times

Italian establishment in downtown Juneau is first Alaska eatery to make newspaper’s annual list.

The is a photo of the Juneau School District building in downtown Juneau. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Juneau not among multiple Alaska school districts receiving bomb threats

Alaska State Troopers and FBI are investigating the source of the threat.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Monday, Sept. 18, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read