Community Tax Centers, a program of Foundation Communities, is enrolling volunteers now for the 2015 tax season. What makes this volunteer opportunity so great?
1. It offers what can be considered as the “holy grail” of volunteering benefits: direct client interaction. As you prepare their taxes, you sit with a family, reviewing their year, learning about what they do and how they manage a family on a limited budget.
“Volunteers have told me that it really opens up their eyes about the working poor,” says Jackie Blair, director of volunteer programs. Clients who are eligible to have their taxes prepared for free must make less than $50,000 a year.
2. There’s the instant gratification aspect, which usually comes in the form of a tax return for the family.
For example, a single mother of two who makes $18,000 a year can be eligible for a child tax credit along with her income tax credit, and see a return of $3,000.
“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 Blair. And that’s a huge win for the volunteer.
Consider that in 2014, Community Tax Centers did almost 20,000 tax returns that resulted in a total of $35 million in refunds — that’s a lot of happy clients.
3. You’re never alone as a volunteer. All of the work takes place at five sites across the city, each hosted by Community Tax Centers staff, with anywhere from 8 to 20 other tax-preparation volunteers on site. In addition, you’ll receive 8 to 12 hours of training to learn the tax-return software, which is essentially a TurboTax type, question-based tool.
“I know it sounds extreme,” says Blair “But volunteering at the tax centers can be life changing.”
WHO IS NEEDED?
About 600 volunteers that are needed to serve the community, and most volunteers are not accountants, tax experts or even that good at math. Community Tax Centers gets about 180 students from a UT-Austin course who earn credit for their time. They also have a few dozen accountants who sign up.
“But for the most part, our volunteers are working folks, stay-at-home moms and others,” says Blair. “You never know who’s going to have an interest.”
HOW TO SIGN UP
Volunteers are asked to commit to 30 to 40 hours between mid-January and April 15, any day of the week.
If filling out tax returns isn’t your thing, you might also consider being a client liaison that greets families at the door, makes sure they’re eligible and have all their paperwork.
There’s also a huge need for Spanish translators. More than a third of the clients are Spanish-speaking, “and it’s tough to charade your way through a tax return,” says Blair.
To sign up, visit Community Tax Centers online. Trainings start soon! Share this opportunity with a friend.
LEARN MORE EVENT – NOV 19: Cupcake Social
RSVP for the Community Tax Centers’ Volunteer Cupcake Social to
– Get answers to all your questions about volunteering for the Community Tax Centers
– Learn about the Community Tax Centers Program and other Foundation Communities’ volunteer opportunities
– Hear about our plans for this upcoming year and how YOU can be a part of them!
– Connect with other volunteers and Foundation Communities’ staff