Today is the deadline to file income tax returns, but some people who have already completed their returns have been helped across the finish line by volunteer Robert Bumgarner, longtime AARP tax assistant.
Bumgarner, who is over 90 years old, retired as a science teacher from Marietta City Schools nearly 30 years ago. He had been doing his own taxes for some time when he heard about the AARP program, which offers free preparation for simpler returns to individuals.
“One of the people who worked on it knew I was retiring, and talked to me about it and asked if I’d be interested.” Baumgarner said.
Twenty-nine years later, he’s still interested.
“I love the people we work with,” Last week, Bumgarner said, on the last day of the free service at the Knights of Columbus building in Harmar. “And the people you’re paying taxes for appreciate it, too.”
A lot has changed over the years, Bumgarner said, starting with the way volunteers do their work.
“When I started, we did it in pencil and paper,” He said. Now,” the computer does all the math.
“When you were doing it with pencil and paper, you were remembering a lot of things,” he added. but “You can make changes faster.”
AARP provides computers for volunteers to use and provides training each year to make sure they keep up to date with the latest changes. No volunteer might know everything, but that’s where collaboration comes in.
What I don’t know, Linda knows. Bumgarner said, pointing to Linda Lawton, administrative specialist and consultant with AARP Tax-Aide, at the next table. “If something doesn’t click very quickly, we can hunt for it.”
One volunteer prepares the return, and then another reviews it. This has been Bumgarner’s role for the past few years.
Lawton said she and the other volunteers appreciate Bumgarner’s continued service.
“we love bob” She said. “He knows what he’s got, and he asks great questions.”
Like many things, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the tax aid program, too.
“We used to, it was just visits,” Baumgarner said. “And now the appointments are through the library.”
Bumgarner said exemptions and qualifications for exemptions have increased over the years.
“Most people we get take the standard deduction,” He said. “And that makes it much easier than having to label everything.”
The program is always looking for additional volunteers, Lawton said. “A friendly person and loves being around people.” Potential volunteers must be comfortable working with a computer and be available from February to April.
“We train people. We provide computers,” Lawton said.
Bumgarner recommended checking it out.
“I think they should give it a try,” He said.
Bumgarner is married to Old District School Superintendent Dora Jean Bumgarner. They have two adult sons and two grandchildren.