AARP Foundation Tax-Aide suspends service through 2020

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, the nation’s largest free, volunteer-based tax preparation and assistance service, has announced that State of Maine AARP Foundation Tax-Aide sites will not re-open in 2020.

In mid-March, due to COVID-19, the national AARP Foundation Tax-Aide office suspended tax preparation at all tax preparation locations throughout the country. Shortly thereafter, also because of COVID-19, the IRS extended the tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15.

With the extended deadline, Tax-Aide volunteers in Maine worked together to try to find a way to safely reopen at least some of its tax preparation sites. However, with COVID-19 complications posing a risk to both older taxpayer clients and Tax-Aide volunteers, it has been decided that AARP Tax-Aide sites in Maine will not reopen in 2020.

The program will return in 2021, having had time to make all the modifications deemed necessary to ensure as much as possible the health and safety of both taxpayers and volunteers.

In the meantime, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers online options to assist taxpayers affected by the suspension of in-person services:

  • A self-prep option, providing taxpayers with free access to software so they can prepare taxes on they own, is available at aarpfoundation.org/preparing-your-taxes-online/
  • If taxpayers have a computer and printer and would like help completing their own taxes, they can request the assistance of a volunteer to coach them through the process via phone or computer screen-sharing. Taxpayers should visit org/forms/tax-prep-assistance-request.html to submit a request.

Although the ‘deadline’ for filing tax returns is usually April 15, taxpayers actually have up to three years to file their federal and state tax returns. As long as there is a refund or no tax due, there are no penalties for filing anytime within the three year period. The failure to file and failure to pay penalties are applied only when a return is filed late and money is owed.

Pandemic casualty: Joseph’s Fireside Restaurant closes its doors

Joseph’s Fireside Steakhouse (photo: facebook.com/jfs.me)

The COVID-19 pandemic did what owners Kevin Joseph (no relation to Kevin Joseph of Guacamole’s and You Know Whose Pub) and E. J. Fabian feared the most: closing their beloved restaurant on other than their own terms.

Effective immediately, Joseph’s Fireside Restaurant, located on West River Road, in Waterville, will not reopen for business and remains up for sale.

Opened in June 2011, the original thinking on the parts of both owners was a five-year plan of operation that would allow them to cross items off their respective bucket lists. At the seven-year mark, the decision was made to place the restaurant up for sale – planning to sell to a community-focused buyer. Now, at nine years, the difficult determination has been made to close permanently, due to the restrictions in place forced by the pandemic. Operating at the mandated limited capacity is not sustainable.

In a letter to many friends, customers, area business owners and especially their employees, Kevin and E.J. included a personal note of thanks: “We would like to thank each and every one of you for making this dream of ours a success for many years. We have been so fortunate to have opened our restaurant in such a caring community. This is not the exit plan we had in mind at all, and we wish we could pass this on to new ownership, but at this time it is not an option. We will truly miss you all.”

The owners wish to let gift card holders with balances know that these will be honored. To assure that the money remain in the area, gift cards will be redeemed through the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, 50 Elm Street, Waterville. Fireside gift cards will be replaced with a Chamber gift certificate of equivalent value, redeemable at a Chamber member restaurant from a provided list. Gift card holders will also receive extra value of 10 percent above and beyond the value of the gift certificate issued, from the participating restaurants, at the time of a visit. The 10 percent bonus value cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions the restaurant may be offering. The 10 percent bonus will be honored by the participating restaurants only until August 31, 2020.

Fireside gift cards must be surrendered at the time of exchange at the Chamber office. Please contact the Chamber at 873-3315, or chambergiftcertifs@gmail.com for information.