17 Replies Latest reply on May 29, 2014 10:20 AM by ronbender

    Tax help volunteering

    vs_rolemodel
      Hello, again.  With taxes on my mind, I am wondering whether anyone here has volunteered to help the public prepare their
      individual tax returns?  I believe AARP offers such voluntary help, and I see that H & R Block have opened up their seasonal
      tax-help office in my neighborhood [although I don't know if their services are free].  Has anyone here ever volunteered as
      a tax-help consultant?  If so, and if you still are volunteering in this way, I suspect you are in demand right now and probably
      quite busy.

      Best wishes,
      Edna [vs_rolemodel]
        • Re: Tax help volunteering
          roncecc
          Hi Edna,
          I was a tax volunteer with AARP for 5 yrs.  Do to other commitments I had to stop.
          Their services are free.
          • Re: Tax help volunteering
            kent
            I am in the midst of volunteer tax preparation now, under a program called VITA (Volunteers in Tax Assistance).  This is my third year, the first with AARP and the past two with the County Community Action Agency.  I particularly value the AARP program as it had excellent training.  In any program, the volunteers must pass certification tests but the demands are not much more than what you would do for yourself.  Most of the returns now are online (the first year we did it with paper and pencil) and there is also an excellent tutorial program prior to testing.  I find the experience challenging and enjoyable with the virtue of being intense but only for 2.5 months.
              • Re: Tax help volunteering
                Blugold71
                I volunteered for VITA a few years ago and found it rewarding and challenging.  I currently work in a homeless shelter and hope to retire in another year.  One of my goals will be to get involved in a volunteer tax prep program in our community.  I've heard too many horror stories about the "fast tax" businesses and hope by volunteering I can save tax prep fees for some of our lowest income folks.
                  • Re: Tax help volunteering
                    Bibliotechy

                    A year after retirement I worked shortly for a commercial tax preparation firm.  I had a problem with their ethics, so the following year I began working with VITA.  (The AARP program is very similar and both do tax returns for low income and the elderly.)  Continued with VITA for seven years but my hearing became worse  resulting in too much stress.   It was challenging, rewarding, and I learned a lot.  The training program I had, which was conducted by a former accounting prof.,  was excellent.

                      • Re: Tax help volunteering
                        hgsteger
                        I've been volunteering with the AARP Tax-Aide program for two years. The program provides free tax preparation for low- to moderate-income individuals, with special focus on those over 60. I have found it a great way to meet people (both clients & fellow volunteers) and to provide a much-needed service to the community. As a side benefit, I have learned a lot that I can apply to my own tax situation. The training and support provided by the AARP program are excellent. I encourage others to get involved. You don't need a background in accounting or tax preparation (I'm a retired psychologist), just an interest in helping others & the willingness to learn something new.  Anyone interested can learn more at http://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide/
                          • Re: Tax help volunteering
                            wwells217
                            Thanks for the tax program info. I'm headed now to check it out.
                              • Re: Tax help volunteering
                                JerryD

                                Can some of the volunteers describe the AARP program: How much training needed, By when? How much time one needs to work?

                                  • Re: Tax help volunteering
                                    ronbender

                                    I have been doing income tax for AARP for 11 years in Peoria, AZ.. Training for new volunteers starts in January and lasts about 2 weeks with a total of 20 hours in the classroom. Then we have about 10 hours of computer training. The experienced tax consultant  will have about 10 hours of training and another 10 hours of computer training.

                                    All tax consultants need to pass a basic test, a intermediate and an advanced test each year with a score of 80 % in each test to qualify. There are greeters, there are floor managers and other types of jobs during tax season. Not all are ready to be a consultants.

                                    • Re: Tax help volunteering
                                      jocee
                                      I have just completed 5 years with AARP - 4 of them as the Coordinator of a busy site in Charlotte, NC.  The work is very rewarding because we help those who can't afford a paid preparer or just need help understanding their taxes.  Although we are AARP sponsored, we work with all ages and income levels. Most of the returns are for individuals so not much different than doing your own taxes.
                                       
                                      Training is offered and I think people who have done their own taxes and have  basic computer skills do the best regardless of their background.  I have a number of engineers and computer tech people working for me but my background is as a library director.  Because taxes/finances can be stressful, people skills are also important.  We sometimes end up doing family counseling to sort out how everyone needs to be filing their returns.
                                       
                                      Usually we work about 10-11 weeks per year (opening after 2/1 and shutting down 4/15).  AARP asks that people work at least 40 hours during that time - or about 4 hours per week.  The more you work, the more you learn so many of my people work more than the 40 hours. 
                                       
                                      We are always looking for new volunteers as people age out or move on to something else.  You can't imagine how good it is to save an elderly person money, talk to young people about saving for retirement, or learn someone has changed their life by listening to our tax advice.  Although we see our clients once a year, they are like old friends and so happy to see us. 
                                       
                                        • Re: Tax help volunteering
                                          wwells217
                                           Enjoyed your posting. I live in Mandeville, LA -- north of N.O. I have some experience as a tax preparer, and I would like to volunteer as a  preparer in my area. Whom can I contact to make this happen for next tax season? Any suggestions?
                                           Thanks, Wayne Wells
                                            • Re: Tax help volunteering
                                              jocee
                                              Good to hear from you.  You could check with AARP on their website to see if you have any of their tax sites in your area (you don't have to be an AARP member to serve).  VITA is another group that offers a lot of free tax help and they  have a website to search too.  There may be other groups in your area that offer this help so googling for free tax preparation groups may help you too.  There may be a source that posts volunteer positions in your region that could help you too.   In Charlotte both VITA and AARP recruit in the fall for the next tax season so you are in the right season to start looking.
                                               
                                              I am familiar with both VITA and AARP.  Both groups offer training so you can pass the IRS certification test.  VITA serves people earning under $50,000 and requires at least Intermediate certification.  AARP does not have an income limit and requires the Advanced certification.  If you have done taxes for yourself before and are fairly computer literate you should have no problem with certification. 
                                               
                                              Both are worthwhile programs because they serve a population that must file but often can not afford to pay a commercial preparer.  Jo Anne
                                               
                                                • Re: Tax help volunteering
                                                  BoBraxton

                                                  We may have a lot more than $50,000 income now but none of it (directly) "earned" income (wages/salaries). From the time my spouse was ordained (1980 June 15) we have paid to have a professional prepare our joint income tax returns -- someone most familiar with clergy income tax laws and regulations.

                                                    • Re: Tax help volunteering
                                                      ronbender

                                                      I just finished doing a retired clergy income tax returns for 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. I did the federal, Maine and Arizona. It was done thru AARP and did not cost anything except for the postage to mail the returns in. AARP state that they do returns for low to middle income people but in my 18 years of doing returns for AARP I have never turned down a person with high income.

                                  • Re: Tax help volunteering
                                    ronbender

                                    I have been a tax volunteer with the AARP tax aide program for 18 years. We have a wonderful facility at a retirement center and we use their computers. We look out over a golf course and see rabbits quite often. We have 7 people that can do the return and then have 4 senior people, one of which will that check the return and print it out for the people.  All returns are send in via the computer. We also do out of state returns.