Recruiting now for best volunteer experience of the year: Preparing taxes

"Free tax help by Neighborhood Centers Inc under CC BY-NC 2.0.
"Free tax help  by Neighborhood Centers Inc under CC BY-NC 2.0.“Free tax help” by Neighborhood Centers Inc under CC BY-NC 2.0.

You can help put more than $30 million in the hands of Austin’s working poor in 2016…by being a community tax center volunteer.

Doing someone else’s taxes may be the last thing you want to do. But think of how powerful that much money is for these families and for the community.

Imagine running through a quick, Turbo-Tax like program for single mother of two with a couple of simple W-2s. If she makes $18,000 a year, she could be eligible for a child tax credit which, along with her income tax credit, can mean she sees a return of $3,000. For her and her family, that amount can be life changing.

“If she’s not expecting a tax return like that, she’ll probably start crying in front of you. That’s a lot of money for her to get back at one time,” says Jackie Blair of Foundation Communities.

Right now, Foundation Communities and other Austin organizations are recruiting the brightest and most generous volunteers in Central Texas to help prepare the tax returns for more than 20,000 area families. And you don’t have to be an accountant to help, says Blair. In fact, these organizations provide all the training you need as well as on-site support from other volunteers and staff.

Here’s the kicker: The more volunteers who can help prepare taxes for working families, the more working families they can serve and the more money they can help put back into the local economy.

    + Tax return volunteers must attend a training, less if you’re a returning volunteer and less if you are volunteering at the tax center in another capacity (like as a Spanish-English translator, a greeter or a support person).
    + The tax season lasts from January – April, but volunteers are asked to serve a certain number of hours a week, depending on your schedule.
    + Tax centers are located all over the city and surrounding areas; they’re usually 8-10 people per tax center at any one time.More than 600 tax center volunteers are needed. The more there are, the more families you can serve.

Want to learn more?

OCT 30: Foundation Communities Community Tax Center Kick-Off Lunch. Everyone is invited to learn from Foundation Communities staff and past volunteers about why they should considering signing up. Learn more and RSVP here.

NOV 17: Foundation Communities Community Tax Center Cupcake Social. Find out from past volunteers and clients about what it’s like to be a tax-return volunteer.

AARP Seeking Tax-Aide Volunteers: AARP seeks tax volunteers, technology coordinators, greeters, communications coordinators, translators and more. Most of the people who seek help from AARP with their tax returns are more than 60 years old and on a fixed income. Training and support provided for all volunteer positions.

Williamson County Financial Stability Coalition: Be a tax preparer, translator or site support volunteer at one of 10 locations in Round Rock, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Hutto, Leander and Taylor.

NOTE: If you are someone that makes less than $57,000, you may be able to file your tax return for free. Look for a “VITA site” in your area, (Volunteer Information Tax Assistance). To find one near you, call 2-1-1 about free tax prep locations.  2-1-1 is free, 24/7, confidential and multilingual. In 2011, the UWATX Navigation Center, which runs the local 2-1-1 program, received more than 5,000 calls from callers looking for free tax preparation assistance.

You might also visit MyFreeTaxes.org/uwatx to file your taxes yourself online for free. MyFreeTaxes provides free tax preparation and filing assistance for individuals or families with a combined income under $57,000.

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