Volunteers Needed to Provide Free Tax Help

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Big Island Now stock photo. Feb. 2016

Last year, more than 600 Hawai‘i residents gave back to their communities as volunteers that provided free tax services by preparing more than 16,000 Federal and state individual income tax returns through the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs.

“The IRS and its partners are looking for volunteers that are interested in taking a little time to learn about taxes and then helping others by preparing federal income tax returns for free,” said IRS spokesman David Tucker II. “Volunteers are certified to prepare simple tax returns for people whose incomes are $55,000 or less. People of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to volunteer. There is a role for anyone who is interested and wants to help give back to their community.”

Anyone can be a volunteer. Bilingual volunteers are particularly needed. Volunteers can help in three separate capacities:

  • Return Preparer
  • Site Coordinator (Site Supervisor or Site Manager)
  • Greeter

Site coordinators (supervisors) may also prepare returns. Greeters will generally also answer simple questions and distribute forms. Volunteers are provided with training materials on how to prepare basic individual income tax returns and, in most cases, how to file them electronically. Instruction will cover both federal and Hawai‘i state tax returns.

Training is usually between November and January and volunteers generally study online with Link & Learn Taxes to obtain their volunteer certification. The Link & Learn program is an interactive course that teaches all of the basics needed to prepare simple income tax returns accurately for individuals. Classroom training may also be available. Once certified, volunteers spend as little as three to four hours per week volunteering between the months of February and April. Last year, millions of people received assistance through nationwide VITA/TCE programs.

To volunteer, send an email to [email protected] or contact any of the following organizations:

  • AARP Foundation Tax-Aide: Sign up to volunteer online.
  • Goodwill Hawai‘i: Individuals interested in volunteering may contact Ann Boyd at [email protected]; direct line, (808) 792-8575; corporate, (808) 836-0313, ext. 2020
  • Hawai‘i Tax Help & Financial Empowerment Solutions, contact Susan at (808) 381-0881 or go online.

More information about the IRS volunteer tax preparation programs is available online.

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