Volunteers needed to provide free tax help


Community volunteers again are being recruited to provide free tax help in Hawaii. Last year, more than 600 isle residents gave back to their communities as volunteers, preparing more than 18,000 federal and state individual income tax returns through the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs.

“The IRS and its partners are looking for volunteers that are interested in taking a little time to learn about taxes and then helping others by preparing federal income tax returns for free,” said IRS spokesman David Tucker II. “Volunteers are certified to prepare simple tax returns for people whose incomes are around $50,000. People of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to volunteer. There is a role for anyone who is interested and wants to help give back to their community.”

Anyone can be a volunteer, and bilingual volunteers are particularly needed, said Tucker. Volunteers can help in several capacities, helping to coordinate the operation and/or preparing tax forms for folks. Greeters will generally also answer simple questions and distribute forms.

Volunteers will be provided with free training materials on how to prepare basic individual income tax returns and, in most cases, how to file them electronically. Instruction will cover both federal and Hawaii state tax returns. Training is usually held between November and January and volunteers generally study online with Link & Learn Taxes to obtain their volunteer certification. The Link & Learn program is an interactive course that teaches all of the basics needed to prepare simple income tax returns accurately for individuals.

Classroom training may also be available. Once certified, volunteers spend as little as three to four hours per week volunteering between the months of February and April. Last year, millions of people received assistance through VITA/TCE programs.

To volunteer, send an email to taxvolunteer@irs.gov.

Or, contact AARP Foundation Tax-Aide at www.aarp.org/taxvolunteer, or HACBED (Hawaii Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development), via Susan at 381-0881, or visit www.hawaiitaxhelp.org.

Or, contact the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, the state’s oldest and largest nonprofit law firm, which every year helps individuals to file their state and federal tax returns based on income eligibility. Legal Aid relies on volunteers to help run this program. If you are interested in volunteering with Legal Aid, contact Elise von Dohlen at 808-527-8076, email elvondo@lashaw.org, or visit www.legalaidhawaii.org.

Volunteers also can help through Goodwill Industries of Hawaii. Contact Lori Lau, via email at LLau@higoodwill.org.

 

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