In today’s article, Julian Omidi talks about how to help low-income people file their tax returns through the IRS program called VITA.
Each year during tax-filing season, more than 3 million low-income Americans need help filing their taxes. Most of these individuals and families have no, or very little, taxable income and turn to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for help. Created and administered by the Internal Revenue Service, VITA operates through local charities in hundreds of cities every year. Each tax season sees about 96,000 volunteers assist millions of needy citizens with one of life’s two certainties, taxes.
How does the program work?
Tax volunteers are assigned to a sponsoring organization in their own communities. After a brief training session, you go right to work helping with tax preparation and filing. If you already have experience as a tax preparer, VITA might need you to train other volunteers. English-Spanish bilingual volunteers can always help out with translation duties.
The training sessions for VITA volunteers are offered in classrooms and online, depending where you live. Once at a tax preparation site, you can pretty much choose your own hours, though most locations are only open on nights and weekends. There are so many volunteer locations around the U.S., nearly everyone who wants to help can find a site near where they live.
You need not be an accountant or even a math whiz to join the ranks of this year’s VITA volunteers. Many locations need greeters and interpreters in addition to those who fill out forms and file tax returns for clients. A sister program called Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) does the same type of work but serves an older demographic.
Sign-up information can be found by clicking here: VITA sign-up, which is the main IRS site for VITA and TCE information. When signing up, be sure to include the city and state where you want to volunteer. That way, the IRS can forward your information directly to the appropriate sponsoring organization. After that, someone will contact you and provide all the details you need to get started.
So many of us get involved in charitable causes during the holidays, it is easy to forget that the post-winter months are a perfect time to help your community. So, lend your neighbors a hand this year by helping them get their taxes done correctly, and before the April deadline. Signing up with VITA is a move you will never regret! (Plus, it’s a fun way to acquire valuable tax-preparation skills).
Give your neighbors a hand with their taxes this year by signing up with VITA. Thank you.
The Omidi Brothers, Julian Omidi and Michael Omidi, are co-founders of several charities including No More Poverty, The Children’s Obesity Fund and Civic Duty.