Top 10 reasons to become a community tax volunteer
Community service • IRS programs offer free filing help to those in need.
Published: August 29, 2012 10:45PM
Updated: November 30, 2012 11:34PM
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No, it’s not the sexiest job in the world, and there’s nothing lucrative about it. But being a community volunteer to provide free tax help to qualified individuals during the filing season has its rewards.

The Internal Revenue Service is seeking individuals for its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs, which are partnerships that provide free tax return preparation for low-to-moderate income taxpayers, seniors, people with disabilities and those with limited English skills.

If you are looking for a way to give back to your community, this is people helping people at its best. Information about becoming a VITA or TCE volunteer is available on IRS.gov by typing the key words “tax volunteer” in the search box. Those interested must submit Form 14310, VITA/TCE Volunteer Sign Up, by email through the IRS website.

Not convinced? Here are 10 commandments, er, reasons, straight from the IRS:

1. No previous experience is required. Volunteers receive specialized training, and if tax preparation is not your thing, you have the option of serving in a variety of other roles.

2. If you are fluent in a language other than English, you can help those who do not speak English understand their tax return.

3. The IRS provides free tax law training and materials needed to prepare basic individual income tax returns.

4. Volunteers become familiar with deductions, allowable expenses and credits that benefit eligible taxpayers, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the Credit for the Elderly.

5. The hours are flexible. Volunteers generally serve an average of three to four hours per week from mid-January through the tax filing deadline, which is April 15, 2013.

6. Volunteer sites generally are at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient locations.

7. Most VITA/TCE sites offer free electronic filing for federal and state tax returns.

8. As a tax volunteer, veterans (and nonveterans alike) may choose to help military personnel and their families.

9. Volunteers will become part of an established program that has helped community members file tax returns at no charge for more than four decades.

10. Last year, nearly 99,000 community volunteers answered the call and made a difference by preparing more than 3.3 million tax returns for free at more than 13,000 locations nationwide.