People can help improve communities and learn new skills as IRS-certified volunteer

IRS Tax Tip 2018-198, December 27, 2018

As the new year draws near, people may be thinking about learning a new skill or finding ways to help their community. These folks can do both by volunteering at a free tax preparation site. Anyone interested should visit the sign-up page on today.

The IRS and its community partners continue to look for people around the country to become IRS-certified volunteers. Many IRS partners are still accepting new volunteers to join one of these programs for the 2019 filing season. Both these programs offer invaluable help to America’s taxpayers:

  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance: VITA offers free tax return preparation to eligible taxpayers who generally earn $55,000 or less.
  • Tax Counseling for the Elderly: TCE is mainly for people age 60 or older. Although the program focuses on tax issues unique to seniors, all taxpayers can usually get assistance. AARP participates in the TCE program through AARP Tax-Aide.

Many volunteers return to the program year after year. Here are several reasons why:

  • Volunteers can work flexible hours. Volunteers can generally choose their own hours and days to volunteer. 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 close to home. 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 to become IRS-certified. They can also choose from a variety of roles to serve. VITA and TCE programs want volunteers of all backgrounds and ages, as well as individuals who are fluent in other languages.
  • The IRS provides 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.
  • Tax pros can earn continuing education credits. 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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