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IRS Seeking Volunteer Tax Preparers in Santa Barbara County

Participants will help file returns through the VITA and TCE programs

The Internal Revenue Service and its partners are seeking volunteers who want to help people in their community by preparing federal income tax returns for free in 2012.

Millions of people receive free tax assistance through the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs each year. IRS partners include local community organizations and groups such as United Way and AARP.

More than 88,000 Americans volunteered through the VITA and TCE programs in 2011. California volunteers helped more than 230,000 taxpayers this past filing season. This includes 57,000 individuals and families living in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. About 250 neighbors in Santa Barbara County volunteered their time and service to make this happen.

“Becoming a VITA or TCE volunteer is a great way to give back to your community and learn about taxes at the same time,” IRS spokeswoman Anabel Marquez said. “People of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to serve, and there is a role for anyone who wants to help.”

People who volunteer are certified to prepare simple tax returns for people whose incomes are $50,000 or less. During the tax season volunteers can help in three separate capacities: return preparers, instructors and quality reviewers, site coordinator (site supervisor or site manager), and greeters and interpreters.

Site coordinators may also prepare returns. Greeters will generally also answer simple questions and distribute forms.

Training is usually held between November and January, and volunteers generally study online with Link & Learn Taxes to obtain their volunteer certification. The Link & Learn program is an interactive course that teaches all of the basics needed to prepare simple income tax returns accurately for individuals. Classroom training may also be available. Once certified, volunteers spend as little as three to four hours per week volunteering between February and April. 

Those interested in volunteering may send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). More information about the IRS volunteer tax preparation programs is available at www.IRS.gov, keywords: Tax Volunteer.

— Anabel Marquez is a media relations specialist for the IRS in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Kern and Inyo counties.

 

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