IRS Special Edition Tax Tip 2017-12: Make a difference, become a community tax volunteer
The IRS is looking for community volunteers to provide free tax preparation and help to their neighbors and other area residents in 2018.
The IRS sponsors the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. These two programs offer free tax help across the country for people with low-to-moderate incomes, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, those with limited English proficiency and Native Americans. This year, VITA and TCE volunteers prepared more than 3.5 million federal tax returns for all types of taxpayers at no cost.
Tax volunteers can and do make a difference in their community.
Here are five reasons to become a 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 with a few sites open all year.
VITA and TCE sites are often nearby. Over 11,000 sites were set up in neighborhoods all over the country for this past filing season. These free tax help sites are located in nearby community centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other similar areas with flexible hours.
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 another language.
Free tax law training and materials. Tax volunteers receive training materials at no charge. The tax law training covers preparing basic federal tax returns electronically and learning about tax deductions, credits and allowable expenses that benefit eligible taxpayers.
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. Go to this IRS Fact Sheet for more information on Continuing Education Credits.
Taxpayers who volunteer are joining a program that has helped millions of people file tax returns at no cost for more than 40 years. Taxpayers who volunteer make a difference. This is people helping people and it's that simple.
To become a VITA or TCE tax volunteer, visit IRS.gov and type "tax volunteer" in the search box.
Avoid scams. The IRS does not initiate contact using social media or text message. The first contact normally comes in the mail. Those wondering if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on IRS.gov to find out.
Remember that all of the web page addresses for the official IRS website, IRS.gov, begin with http://www.irs.gov. Don' t be confused or misled by Internet sites that end in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. The address of the official IRS governmental Web site is http://www.irs.gov/.