Volunteer Tax Preparers

Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Needs Volunteer Tax Preparers

VITA volunteers receive tax training from the IRS and experienced volunteers to complete income tax returns using approved software for electronic filing. Additionally, online training and testing 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 $54,000 and below). Individuals with farms, rental properties and deductible moving expenses are not eligible for assistance. Additionally, volunteers receive training to use the software to assist clients with their PA State Returns, local returns and PA Property Tax/Rent Rebates.

Training is available throughout the year, with the majority of the training conducted during November and January. Each volunteer is asked to donate a minimum of 4 to 5 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 1 hour to complete. Each volunteer should anticipate completing 50 or more returns during the tax season.

VITA volunteers work directly with clients to review provided records and ask pertinent questions while completing the return. Supervisors are available for consultations during the return preparation process. All returns are verified by a supervisor before the volunteer reviews the return with the client.

The IRS estimates that the average cost to complete a tax return is $240. 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.

Centre County RSVP provides tax assistance throughout the county. Call the RSVP Office at (814) 355-6816) for more information and to volunteer.