Here’s how to become a community tax volunteer

IRS Tax Tip 2018-109, July 17, 2018

The IRS needs volunteers who want to help provide free tax preparation in communities across the nation during the 2019 tax season. It might seem far off, but people who want to volunteer can start taking action now.

The IRS sponsors the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs each year. Both offer free tax help across the country for people with low-to-moderate incomes, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and those who speak limited English. Last year, VITA and TCE volunteers prepared more than 3.5 million federal tax returns for qualified taxpayers at no cost. Anyone interested in volunteering can visit the sign-up page on IRS.gov.

Here are reasons people become an IRS-certified VITA or TCE tax volunteer:

  • Flexible hours. Volunteers generally serve an average of three to five hours per week. The programs are usually open from mid-to-late-January through the tax filing deadline in April. Some sites are even open all year.
     
  • VITA and TCE sites are often nearby. More than 11,000 sites were set up in neighborhoods all over the country for 2018. These free tax help sites are in places like community centers, libraries, schools and shopping malls.
     
  • No prior experience needed. Volunteers receive specialized training and often serve in a variety of roles. VITA and TCE programs want volunteers of all backgrounds and ages, as well as individuals who are fluent in other languages.
     
  • Free tax law training and materials. Volunteers receive training materials at no charge. The tax law training covers how to prepare basic federal tax returns electronically. The training also covers tax topics like deductions and credits.
     
  • Continuing education credits for tax pros. Enrolled agents and non-credentialed tax return preparers can earn continuing education credits when volunteering as a VITA/TCE instructor, quality reviewer or tax return preparer.

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