Volunteer Tax Preparers Sought for IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program

United-Way-PC-VITA-VolunteerAre you looking for a volunteer opportunity in Porter County? The United Way of Porter County is seeking volunteers to help elderly, moderate-to-low income Porter County residents file their federal and state income taxes for the 2017 tax year.

If you ever wonder how to make a difference and help people in your community, then becoming a tax volunteer may be just right for you. The IRS is looking for people who will provide free tax help in 2017 through a program called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA).

You will receive all the tax training you need so you can help others file their tax return. IRS printed materials are supplied include a volunteer resource guide used both in training and certification, and later with the clients.

For the second year, the IRS is using the online version of “TaxSlayer” a program that may be familiar to taxpayers who currently prepare their own taxes. According to local VITA site coordinator, George Kuebler, at the United Way of Porter County, “previous tax preparation experience, while useful, is not as prerequisite to do the program. The training materials guide the volunteers through tax law and instructions in how to you the TaxSlayer program.”

“Training a can be accomplished the volunteers own rate, leading them to the required certification to participate in the program,” Kuebler added. “Volunteers can decide how much time they want to contribute during the tax preparation season that usually starts about February 1 and concludes near the April 15 deadline.”

“Some retiree volunteers take time off for vacation during this period, and resume their participation when they get back,” he added. “There are no too few hours, and the number of hours are up to the volunteer.”

The online training begins in mid-November at which time the printed materials will be available to assist in the course completion.

An open house for the public and returning volunteers is scheduled for 5 pm, Tuesday, October 24 in the UWPC Community Room A. There is no obligation to volunteer, however, this meeting will provide a good opportunity to learn about the program.

Here are four good reasons why you should become a VITA volunteer.

  1. No prior experience needed. You’ll receive self-directed specialized training on-line and can serve in a variety of roles. If you are fluent in another language, you may be able to help those who speak that language.
  2. Free tax law training and materials. You’ll learn how to prepare basic tax returns and learn about tax deductions and credits that benefit eligible taxpayers. These include credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Credit for the Elderly.
  3. Volunteer hours are flexible. Volunteers generally serve an average of three to five hours per week. The United Way of Porter County program is usually open from late-January through the tax filing deadline in April.
  4. Continuing education credits for tax pros. Enrolled Agents and non-credentialed tax return preparers can earn credits when volunteering as a VITA instructor, quality reviewer or tax return preparer. As a volunteer, you’ll join a program that’s helped millions of people file tax returns at no charge for more than 40 years. Your help will make a difference. It’s people helping people. It's that simple.

Some of the volunteer roles needed at the United Way of Porter County tax preparation location include:

  • Greeter/Screener - As a greeter/screener you’ll greet everyone visiting the site. You’ll screen taxpayers to determine the type of assistance they need and confirm they brought all the necessary documents to have their tax returns completed
  • Appointment Scheduler – As an appointment scheduler, you’ll assist taxpayers in scheduling their appointments prior to arrival. Appointments are made via phone and email. (Tax law certification is not required for above two positions).
  • Tax Preparer – After successfully completing your tax law certification, as a volunteer tax preparer you will provide free tax return preparation for eligible taxpayers using electronic filing software. Tax law certification is required for this volunteer role.
  • Quality Reviewer – Quality reviewers conduct a quality review of all tax returns completed by volunteer tax preparers, ensuring that every taxpayer receives quality service and an accurate tax return.

Kim Olesker, president & CEO of United Way of Porter County, encourages residents to take advantage of this powerful volunteer opportunity where “you can directly impact lives by providing free tax preparations to those who may otherwise not file taxes due to the cost of tax preparation.”

Preparation of 2017 taxes is scheduled to begin at the United Way of Porter County, 951 Eastport Centre Drive, Valparaiso in late January 2018.

For more information contact George Kuebler, VITA Supervisor, at (219) 464-3583, ext. 128 or email to george@unitedwaypc.org.