IRS-certified volunteers play a crucial role during tax filing season, serving as the often-overlooked heroes. Each year, these dedicated individuals step forward to assist taxpayers in successfully completing their tax returns. For those interested in making a positive impact in their community, gaining knowledge in tax preparation, and earning continuing education credits, volunteering is a compelling option.
Two key IRS volunteer programs, namely the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE), provide free basic tax return preparation to eligible individuals. While the IRS oversees these programs, the VITA/TCE sites are run by IRS partners and staffed by volunteers.
VITA extends assistance to individuals earning $60,000 or less, those with disabilities, and limited English-speaking taxpayers. On the other hand, TCE primarily caters to individuals aged 60 and older, focusing on tax issues specific to seniors.
Volunteers are needed for various roles beyond tax preparation, including interpreters, greeters, quality reviewers, marketing specialists, instructors, and computer specialists.
Volunteering is convenient and flexible, allowing volunteers to choose their hours and days. Tax preparation sites typically operate from late January through the tax filing deadline in April, with some sites open year-round.
Virtual volunteering options are available, enabling volunteers to assist taxpayers over the phone or online. Some volunteers conduct virtual quality reviews before guiding taxpayers through e-filing their returns.
No prior experience is required, as volunteers undergo specialized training to become IRS certified. Individuals of all backgrounds and ages, including those fluent in other languages, contribute to VITA and TCE programs.
The IRS provides free tax law training and materials to volunteers, covering the preparation of basic federal tax returns electronically and addressing topics such as deductions and credits.
Tax professionals can earn continuing education credits by volunteering as VITA or TCE instructors, quality reviewers, or tax return preparers, benefiting both enrolled agents and non-credentialed tax return preparers.