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AARP TAX ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

AARP Tax-Aide Volunteers will be providing free income tax return preparation beginning Friday, February 3rd to April 14, 2017 on Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. BY APPOINTMENT ONLY! Please call 527-6151 to schedule your appointment

Documents Required:

  • Last year’s tax return
  • SSA-1099 - Social Security Income or RRB-1099 (Railroad Pension)
  • 1099s for pensions, annuities, interest, dividends, unemployment, sale of stock or mutual funds (need purchase date and cost) and 1099-MISC, State tax refund
  • W-2 wage earnings
  • W2-gambling/winnings
  • Health Insurance Card
  • Rent Paid
  • Homeowners: Original property tax bills and amount paid in 2016, water & sewer bill.
  • Estimated taxes paid
  • Bank routing and account numbers

LINDA S. TALBOT, Executive Director:  April 2017
Even though I am retiring in 4 months, I am still planning new programs with Kim Jensen, Activity & Event Coordinator. I am currently working on a possible Nutrition Series that addresses sugars, good fats vs. bad fats and a 21-day whole food cleanse. I completed the 21-day whole food cleanse last year and lost over 8 lbs., improved my overall eating habits and saw a dramatic increase in my energy level.
The Fitness Program that I am trying to organize involves addressing a Total Body Workout Program with a Certified Fitness Instructor. Working out in our Fitness Center is great, but it is only one piece of the pie. What about strength, balance, flexibility, stretching exercises, and the safe use of free weight.? More details to follow.
Over the past several months, the Council on Aging has offered free exercise classes to Easthampton residents 60 years of age and older utilizing EOEA grant funding. Out-of-town residents were asked to pay a fee and did not understand why they could not take the classes for free. The grant is very specific that only Easthampton residents 60 years of age and older can participate for free. We try our very best to offer free or low-cost programming with highly qualified instructors when we can. We only receive so much funding to offer free programs and then we need to charge you to continue with that particular program. Until next month, Linda S. Talbot

KIM JENSEN, Activity & Event Coordinator: April 2017
Some months ago I introduced you to a new word– Hygge, and the concept behind it – one of self-comfort. Last month I encouraged you to “find your sweetness” in the midst of a time of year that doesn’t always seem to hold any, because you have to look carefully for it!
THIS month – another new word: Yuugen. Pronounced yoo-gahn, it is a Japanese word which, once again, is a whole idea, so it doesn’t translate into English exactly. “Yuugen” is when you find yourself realizing that there are circumstances and things so much larger beyond what is happening to yourself or in your life.
Think of the times you have looked up at a sky full of stars, or gazed out at the wide rolling expanse of ocean, a blazing sunset, a clear day with trees swaying in the breeze, birds singing in the branches after a long winter, being part of a happy, cheering crowd or listening to the swelling sound of a lush symphony. Something that takes your breath away, or makes you sigh and let go. This sensation creates a new perspective FOR YOU out-side your time and circumstance. That new view... is “Yuugen.”
Change, it is said, is the only constant. We can’t avoid it, but, we CAN choose how we look at the change. Come shake things up, try some new ways to make a difference in your life. Try participating in M.E.L.T. self-massage, or Release, Restore and Rebalance exercise classes. Consider Tai Chi for April. Try signing up for a van trip to a new place you haven’t been. Be brave, try our NEW wireless assistive listening devices FOR EVERYONE. Enjoy a happy crowd with other enthusiastic music lovers at our Easthampton Music Conservatory Spring Show Program. Many of our Yuugen generating programs are FREE, but you must choose to call and let us know you are coming. You can use these experiences as a touchstone and create “Yuugen” with a new, wider view of your world. Come change this spring—for the better!

NEED LEGAL ADVICE?
No Money for a Lawyer?
Ask Mass Legal Answers Online!
Mass Legal Answers Online is a free service for low income Massachusetts residents who cannot afford a lawyer. Go to masslao.org to get free legal advice about non-criminal legal problems from volunteer lawyers.
Easy as 1, 2, 3:
1. Go to masslao.org and create an account. No computer or smartphone? Use a computer at the local public library or Council on Aging for free.
2. Use the website to ask your question.
3. A lawyer will answer you on the website.

LIVE INDEPENDENTLY AT HOME
Home Modification Loan Program is state-funded loan program that can help MA residents live more independently at home by providing loans for access and safety modifications for elders and persons with disabilities.
• Provides 0% and 3% loans (up to $30,000)
• Generous income guide-lines
• Approximately 94% of homeowners qualify for a 0% loan.
• 0% loans have no monthly payments and repayment is required when the home is sold or transferred!

Eligibility is based on a few factors; including income, a professional’s documentation of need, and the modifications proposed.
Modifications can include: ramps, wheelchair lifts, stair lifts, safety windows, fences and more.
Call Susan at 1-866-500-5599
Home Modification Program is a program of Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission in collaboration with CEDAC (Community Economic Development Assistance Corp.)

BE ALERT TO TAX SCAMS
In recent years, thousands of people have lost money and had their personal information compromised due to tax scams and fake IRS communications.
The IRS will NEVER:
• Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a pre-paid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you own any taxes.
• Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrest-ed for not paying.
• Demand you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
• Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
• The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media to request personal or financial information.
• The IRS does not threaten with lawsuits, imprisonment or other enforcement action.

THE MA “CIRCUIT BREAKER INCOME TAX CREDIT FOR HOMEOWNERS AND RENTERS AGE 65 AND OLDER

 The Massachusetts “Circuit Breaker” tax credit program is a program for adults age 65+ whose property taxes and half of the water and sewer bills are more than 10% of their annual gross income (or for renters, if their rent is greater than 25% of their income) and who meet a few other rules. Adults can get this income tax credit even if they owe no income taxes. Also, you can get this refundable tax credit if you also receive a property tax exemption from their Town Assessor.
The value of the refundable credit can be as high as $1,070 for 2016 tax filers. To obtain the credit, you must file a MA Income Tax “Form 1” and “Schedule CB Form” for the 2016 tax year. You may file to get a refundable cred-it for the last 3 years* if you have not yet done so. In addition to this year’s credit, the maximum credit you may receive for the past 3 tax years is: $1,070 in 2015; $1050 in 2014 AND $1030 in 2013.

You must meet the following guidelines to qualify for this refundable tax credit:

1.    Be 65 or older by the end of the tax year for which you are filing.

2.    Have income below the maximum level (including Social Security and other income not ordinarily taxed in Massachusetts.

For Tax Year 2016:
Single: $57,000
Head of Household: $71,000
Married, filing jointly: $86,000
Married, filing separately, not eligible.

3. The property that you own or rent must be residential property in MA and be your primary residence.

4. The assessed value of your home cannot be greater than $720,000

5. 10% rule for owners.

6. 25% rule for renters.

7. Even if you do not normally file with the state, if you meet the criteria you are most likely due a “refund” check/tax credit from the Dept. of Revenue.

PLEASE CALL THE ECOA AT 413-527-6151 AND SCHEDULE YOUR FREE AARP TAX APPOINTMENT TO DETERMINE IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE

FREE WIFI & USE OF LAPTOP & E-READER AT THE ENRICHMENT CENTER
The Enrichment Center is now offering FREE WiFi upstairs in the main dining area.  Bring your own laptop or other device.  If you do not have your own, why not use ours!!  We have a new laptop for the public to use in the main dining area located by the seating area.  We also have a Kindle E-reader for you to use at the Enrichment Center. We are also planning a number of instruction/computer classes.
Coffee is always available for purchase for $1.25. Speak with a staff person or the receptionist to make your K-Cup selection.

FRIENDS FUNDRAISER: COLLECTING USED CELLPHONES
The Friends of the ECOA, Inc. will be conducting a fundraiser starting in February. We will be collecting used cell phones for recycling. If you have upgraded your cell phone, please consider donating your old one to the Enrichment Center. A donation box will be placed in the Center to collect the used cell phones. Ecophones will pay us for each item collected, working or not. Funds raised will go to support programs at the Enrichment Center.

READING LIBRARY
The Enrichment Center maintains a reading corner on the upper level of the Enrichment Center.  Books are taken out on an honor system and should be returned to the Enrichment Center when finished. New book donations welcome but please call the Enrichment Center FIRST!!

NOTARY SERVICE:
The Easthampton Council on Aging Enrichment Center provides notary services to Easthampton residents, 60 years of age and older.
Please call Linda Talbot at 413-527-6151 to schedule an appointment. In-home notary service is also available by appointment. You must provide a picture I.D.
which is required by law. A suggested donation of $5.00 is requested.
DO NOT SIGN YOUR DOCUMENTS IN ADVANCE. THE NOTARY MUST WITNESS YOUR SIGNATURE IN PERSON!!

SENIOR COMMUNITY SERVICE EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM
The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is a community service work-based and paid job training program for older Americans under the U.S. Dept. of Labor. We are looking for individuals who are 55 and older and who income qualify to inquire and apply for our services. This is for additional job training, helping to keep older adults in the workforce using their work skills, through community service. We place in various government settings, and in non-profits (we don’t place in for profit businesses).
We pay minimum wage for 20 hours per week. Min. wage now is $8.00 hr., and in Jan. will be $9.00 hour. Workers  ompensation is covered by the Federal Govt. The placement in our job training is temporary and all participants in this program work with our staff to find employment away from our job training service so that they can have better opportunities for employment and earn even more income than we are able to provide.
Hampshire County residents may inquire about the program to see if they qualify by contacting the representative of this service by phone or email. We are based at the Franklin/Hampshire Career Ctr. at 178 Industrial Drive Northampton.
Please contact Charlotte Lee, Employment Director at 413-750-2092 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further information.

EYECARE AMERICA PROGRAM
Assistance with eye care
EyeCare America facilitates eye care for US citizens or legal resident, who are without an Eye MD and who do not belong to an HMO or have eye care through the Veteran’s Administration.
To be eligible for the program an individual should fall into one of the two categories below:
1. Those who are age 65 or older and have not seen an ophthalmologist (Eye MD) in three or more years. These patients may be eligible to receive a comprehensive, medical eye exam and up to one year of care at no out-of-pocket cost for any disease diagnosed during the initial exam. Volunteer ophthalmologists will waive Co-payments and unmet deductibles and accept Medicare and/or other insurance reimbursement as payment in full; patients without insurance receive this care at no charge.
OR
2. If you are not eligible for the above care, those determined to be at increased risk for glaucoma (by age, race and family history) and have not had an eye exam in 12 months or more. These patients may be eligible to receive a free glaucoma eye exam if they are uninsured. Those who are eligible and covered by insurance will be billed for the exam and are responsible for any co-payments.
Whether or not visitors are eligible for a referral, Eye Care America also offers free brochures, other resources and medication assistance information at:  www.eyecareamerica.org

NORTHWESTERN DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S CONSUMER PROTECTION DIVISION
If you or someone you know in Hampshire or Franklin County has a consumer problem or questions, please contact the Northwestern District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Division:  (413) 774-3186 Greenfield (413) 586-9225 Northampton northwesternda.org.  Working in cooperation with the Attorney General’s Office.
HAMPSHIRE ELDER LAW PROGRAM
Hampshire Elder Law Program (H.E.L.P.) is a program administered by the Hampshire County Bar Association. H.E.L.P.’s mission is to meet the civil legal needs of low income elders in Hampshire County. Civil Legal services provided include: bankruptcy, consumer protection, Divorce, guardianship, Health Care Proxies, Powers of Attorney, Probate of Estates, wills and other elder matters.
Eligibility Requirements:
•    Must be 60 years of age and older
•    A Hampshire County resident
•    Low income
•    In need of Legal Assistance
•    Unable to hire an attorney
If you meet eligibility requirements, you will be referred to one of their attorney's for assistance. Contact H.E.L.P. at (413) 586-8729

SAFE DISPOSAL OF SHARPS CONTAINER
Dispose at Public Safety Complex. Needles are NOW accepted at the Public Safety Complex 24/7. There is no fee.
They accept sharps container boxes, 2-liter soda bottles, rigid plastic laundry detergent bottles, rigid plastic coffee cans with taped tops. The Health Department has a supply of sharps containers available to Easthampton residents.

HEAR NOW RECYCLING PROGRAM
We Need Your Used Hearing Aids…What you will receive:
*An acknowledgement letter for tax purposes
*Knowledge that you’ve helped Starkey Hearing Foundation and its Hear Now Program continue their mission of providing hearing aids overseas and in the United States.
 What you need to do:
Label the package or box with this address:
Hear Now Donation - 6700 Washington Avenue South. Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Include your name and address inside the package (please allow 6-8 weeks to process).
For further information, please call 1-800-648-4327 or go to sotheworldmayhear.org