How people can give back by becoming an IRS-certified volunteer (Tax Tip 2020-174)

  • Greeters to help screen taxpayers to determine the type of assistance they need.
  • Interpreters to provide language services.
  • Tax preparers to use electronic filing software to complete tax returns.

The IRS and its community partners are looking for people around the country to become IRS-certified volunteers for the upcoming tax season.

These long-standing programs offer valuable help to America’s taxpayers:

  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance offers free tax return preparation to eligible taxpayers who generally earn $57,000 or less, people with disabilities and limited English-speaking taxpayers.
  • Tax Counseling for the Elderly is mainly for people age 60 or older. Although the program focuses on tax issues unique to seniors, most taxpayers can usually get free assistance. AARP participates in the TCE program through AARP Tax-Aide.

New processes make volunteering safe and easy

To keep everyone safe, potential volunteers can tune in virtually to learn more about the programs, ask questions and find out which volunteer role is right for them.

Some volunteer sites will offer virtual help to taxpayers in place of face-to-face assistance. This allows volunteers to help taxpayers complete their tax returns over the phone or online. Other volunteers will conduct a virtual quality review with the taxpayer before e-filing their tax return.

While virtual volunteering will be an option this tax season, some VITA and TCE sites will still offer in-person free tax help. Safety and social distancing will be emphasized during face-to-face interactions.

There are many available volunteer roles:

  • Greeters to help screen taxpayers to determine the type of assistance they need.
  • Interpreters to provide language services.
  • Tax preparers to use electronic filing software to complete tax returns.
  • Tax coaches, at some sites, to encourage taxpayers to prepare their own tax returns and help them through the process.

 Other benefits of volunteering include:

  • Volunteers can work flexible hours. Volunteers can generally choose their own hours and days to volunteer. The programs are usually open from late January through the tax filing deadline in April. Some sites are even open all year.
  • No prior experience needed. Volunteers receive specialized training to become IRS-certified. They can also choose from a variety of volunteer roles to serve taxpayers. 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.

People can sign up through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program by visiting the sign-up page on IRS.gov. Shortly after signing up, interested participants will receive an invite to attend a virtual orientation.

IRS YouTube Videos:

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Recruitment

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Filomena Mealy

Filomena is a Relationship Manager for the Tax Outreach, Partnership and Education Branch of the Internal Revenue Service's.  Her responsibilities include developing outreach partnerships with non-tax companies, organizations and associations, such as the banking industry to educate and communicate changes in tax law, policy and procedures. She has provided content and served as a contributor to various associations and online media sources.
http://IRS.GOV

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