Are you interested in assisting retired and low-income families in Centre County? Do you have a mind for numbers? Do you feel comfortable using a computer? Would you be willing to study and apply tax law? If your answers are all yes, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program has a challenging opportunity for you through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
This past tax season, VITA volunteers assisted more than 1,100 individuals and families in Centre County. More volunteers are needed for the upcoming tax season.
VITA volunteers receive tax training from the IRS and experienced volunteers to complete federal income tax returns, state returns, local returns and property tax/rent rebates. Online training also is available. All volunteers must pass a test and be certified by the IRS prior to assisting clients. VITA assistance is limited to individuals and families with low to moderate income (generally $50,000 and below).
Training will start Oct. 1, with follow-up training in January. Each volunteer is asked to donate a minimum of four to five hours per week in the Bellefonte and/or State College area during the tax season, February through April. This commitment is required for the volunteer to achieve the level of knowledge/proficiency necessary for tax preparation.
On average, after achieving proficiency, a return should take approximately one hour to complete. Each volunteer should anticipate completing 50 or more returns during the tax season.
VITA volunteers work with clients to review provided records and ask pertinent questions while completing the return. Supervisors are available for consultations during the return preparation process and to verify all returns prior to submission to the IRS.
The IRS estimated that the average cost to complete a 2011 tax return was $230. For many low-income clients and seniors, this financial burden, combined with the complexity of tax law, makes it extremely difficult for them to get their income tax returns completed by competent preparers. Many times valuable deductions and tax credits are not claimed or high preparation fees are charged, resulting in lost income for the individuals who need it most.
Call the RSVP office at 355-6816 for more information.
Brian Querry is the RSVP project director and VITA coordinator for Centre County.