Business & Real Estate

United Way seeks tax prep volunteers

United Way Bay Area’s Earn It! Keep It! Save It! program seeks volunteer tax preparers, interpreters and greeters to help staff Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites throughout the Bay Area during the 2020 tax season.

No prior experience with tax preparation is required, and all training is provided. With the support of trained, IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers, VITA sites provide free tax preparation to low- to moderate-income individuals and families at more than 200 locations across eight Bay Area counties.

VITA volunteers aim to help households receive the best possible refunds by ensuring they claim all deductions and tax credits available. For example, the federal Earned Income Tax Credit – one of the most powerful poverty-fighting safety-net programs in the country – can provide eligible families with three or more qualifying children a $6,557 credit. Sites also help families access the California Earned Income Tax Credit. Families with multiple children can claim the maximum credit of nearly $3,000, plus a new $1,000 credit for families with children 5 and under.

“When I saw the sense of relief and the smile that my first taxpayer had once I had prepared her return and she had fulfilled her obligation to file taxes, I was hooked,” said VITA volunteer Pete Shyvers. “United Way Bay Area sets the stage for a great experience.”

Free volunteer training provided by community partners and the IRS begins in December and January. Volunteer tax preparers attend three days of classroom instruction. There is also a need for outreach volunteers, a role that requires less training. For tax professionals or experienced volunteers, an online training and accelerated certification tool is available.

Site operation hours vary, but most volunteers are asked to volunteer regularly for at least one four-hour shift each week from late January until April 15. Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to volunteer. There is a special need for bilingual Spanish speakers.

Last year, approximately 2,800 Earn It! Keep It! Save It! volunteers in the Bay Area helped file more than 78,000 federal and state tax returns, resulting in more than $80 million in federal tax refunds.

To volunteer and for more information, visit earnitkeepitsaveit.org/volunteer.

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