AUSTIN, Texas – Free tax prep with no strings attached.

That’s the offering at AARP Tax-Aide sites throughout Texas, where income taxes are prepared and filed by volunteers certified by the IRS.

Those volunteers receive at least 80 hours of training and are re-certified every year. Some are retired accountants and executives and others are accounting students getting hands-on experience. ?Harold Wiggins has been a Tax-Aide volunteer since 1997.

“I enjoy working with numbers; I also enjoy helping the people out there. They really appreciate our help and they need our help,” he said.?One tax break volunteers are trained to look for is the Earned Income Tax Credit. It’s a refund for lower-income taxpayers.

IRS spokesman Richard Panick said EITC checks can range from a few hundred dollars to more than $5,000.

“What we’re seeing is folks in unusual economic circumstances, who perhaps in prior years weren’t eligible for the credit. But because of setbacks they may have suffered because of the economy, they may not know that they’re now eligible,” he said.?Tax-Aide was created to help lower- and middle-income taxpayers with returns that aren’t too complex. Taxpayers don’t have to be an AARP member or senior citizen to use the free service.

Information on Tax-Aide office locations is available by calling 888-227-7669 or online at www.AARP.org.