Help Tax Season to Become Less Taxing – for Others
by Bob Williams
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As Christmas approaches, our thoughts may turn to finding that perfect gift. But what about using that desire to help someone - someone you may not even know?
You understand how stressful tax season can be; what if your gift is to make taxes a little less stressful for others? The Internal Revenue Service is looking for volunteers to help provide free tax assistance to individuals during tax season.
There are two programs: VITA, for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance; and TCE, or Tax Counseling for the Elderly. Both are managed by the IRS and they provide free tax return preparation to low-to-moderate income taxpayers, seniors, people with disabilities, and non-English speakers.
Now, before you walk away with the "I'm not a tax preparer …" speech, consider what these programs need:
- First, No previous experience is required. Volunteers can serve as greeters, reviewers or tax preparers, and volunteers will get specialized training from certified VITA/TCE instructors.
- Second, The IRS provides free tax law training, e-file training and all the materials needed to prepare basic individual income tax returns.
- Third, the hours are flexible. The IRS asks its volunteers to serve an average of three to four hours per week during tax season, which runs from mid-January to the tax deadline - April 17 in 2012.
Chances are, you won't have far to go to volunteer. IRS volunteer sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools and other convenient locations. Most VITA/TCE sites also offer free electronic filing of tax returns.
If you think helping someone with their tax returns sounds like a rewarding way to spend a few hours a week during tax season, you'll be in good company. More than 88,000 volunteers answered the call last year, preparing more than 3 million free returns at thousands of sites nationwide.
Helping others can be an exciting, educational and enjoyable experience. Become an IRS volunteer this tax season and see what a difference it can make in your life - and in others' lives as well.
To get more information about becoming an IRS volunteer, go to www.irs.gov, or send an email with your contact information, along with the city and state where you'd like to volunteer, to TaxVolunteer@irs.gov.
It could be the best Christmas present you've ever given …
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