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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 March 2017

It’s official - I will be retiring this July after 20 years as the Executive Director for the Easthampton Council on Aging. I have very mixed emotions regarding my decision, but feel that the timing is right. I have looked at both the pros and cons of retiring and the pros won.
I am not sure where my life will lead me but I am excited to begin a new chapter in my life. I know that I will be rescheduling my River Cruise to Europe with my mother for late July and that I will probably take the rest of the year off to explore all of my options for part-time work and volunteering. It is both exciting and scary at the same time.
I have been working in the field of Gerontology for the past 40 years. I started working in nursing homes as a nurses aide when I was 16 years old. I then entered college and studied Gerontology and Business Management while working full-time at a local nursing home. After graduating, I worked as a Case Manager for Greater Springfield Senior Services, Western Mass. Elder Care and as a Licensed Medical Social Worker/Case Manager for Blue Cross and Blue Shield/Medical West Home Care Department. During that time I received my Master’s Degree in Business Management and returned to college again to study for a Master’s Degree in Social Work. I did not complete this degree and instead became employed as the Executive Director for the Easthampton Council on Aging.
I have truly loved each and every job that I have ever held and enjoyed educating myself in the field of Gerontology. I will certainly miss many of the wonderful people and staff that I have met during my 20 years at the ECOA. Until next month, Linda S. Talbot


Kim Jensen, Activity Coordinator, March 2017

Each year as my children were growing up they would wait for the iron cold of February to crack, just a bit. They knew when the temperature almost let you remove hats and gloves, maybe unzip your coat a moment, that spring was sneaking it’s way toward us. The trees and plants know before we do that winter is giving way and it is time to wake up. Maples are among the earliest risers. Native people in New England would cut into bark on maple trees, collect the sap and boil until it became a semblance of syrup. I imagine they had a huge sugar fueled party with it after such harsh winters! My tribe would wait for the steam to begin to rise out of the chimney stack of the sugar house in our yard then happily skip down there to watch my husband boil away the evenings after work. The taste of the very first syrup of the season was an eagerly awaited treat. Standing next to the fire of the evaporator, orange sparks flying out into the black night while having a taste of warm syrup. Finding sweetness in unexpected places. It’s March in a nutshell. Come find yours! Join us this month for “New England in Story and Song”
Help us make spring magic for students and seniors alike!

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

HOME MODIFICATION LOAN PROGRAM (HMLP)
The state-funded HMLP provides loans to make modifications to the primary, permanent residence of elders, adults with disabilities, and families with children with disabilities. The modifications to be made to the residence must be necessary to
allow the beneficiary to remain in the home and must relate to their ability to function on a daily basis.
This program is not a home repair program. Some examples of projects funded include ramps and accessible bathrooms and kitchens.
Based on the income guidelines, you may qualify for a loan of $1,000 up to $30,000 which is secured by a promissory note and a mortgage lien. This program offers 0% or 3% deferred payment loans and 3% amortizing loans depending on the total gross household income.
Homeowners eligible for a 0% loan do not make any monthly payments and no interest accrues. Repayment is required when the property is sold or has its title transferred. 3% loans require monthly payments and must be paid back in 5-15 years, depending on the total amount borrowed.
Please contact the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission at 413-781-6045 for additional information.

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