Programs will train volunteer tax preparers


Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 2:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 2:10 p.m.

Wanted: Volunteers to provide tax preparation assistance and serve as greeters for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and the AARP Tax-Aide Assistance programs.

Facts

VITA TRAINING

What: Training classes for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
When: 6-8:30 p.m. Jan. 14-17.
Where: Gerson Hall, University of Florida.
Information: Call 352-333-0852 or email coliphant@unitedwayncfl.org.

AARP TRAINING
What: Training classes for AARP-Tax-Aide Assistance program.
When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays Jan. 4-15.
Where: Millhopper Branch Library, 3145 NW 43rd St.
Information: Call 352-339-1801 or email AARPtaxhelp@gmail.com.

VITA is an IRS-sponsored program that works with United Way and other community partners, while AARP Tax-Aide is sponsored by the AARP in partnership with the IRS to assist families during the tax season, which runs from Jan. 22-April 16, the deadline for filing the 2012 income tax return.

Sarah Coulson, communications specialist at United Way of North Central Florida, said the next tax training for VITA will be held from 6-8:30 p.m. Jan. 14-17 at Gerson Hall, Room 122 at the University of Florida. To volunteer, call 352-333-0852 or email coliphant@unitedwayncfl.org.

Coulson said 122 volunteers are needed, and so far there are 16 VITA sites. "We hope to have more by the opening of tax season," said Coulson, adding that last year, nearly 118 volunteers served as VITA counselors and greeters and 1,293 federal returns were filed.

Judie Davidson, co-coordinator of AARP Tax-Aide Assistance in Alachua County, said training for AARP Tax-Aide will be held from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays Jan. 4-15 at the Millhopper Branch Library at 3145 NW 43rd St. To volunteer, contact Davidson by email at AARPtaxhelp@gmail.com.

Davidson said those interested do not have to be an AARP member or have experience doing taxes to volunteer to serve as a greeter and/or a tax counselor. She said greeters will make appointments for tax preparation and help clients make sure they have all of the necessary paperwork before meeting with tax counselors, who will help taxpayers file their income taxes.

"We don't have a income cap," Davidson said. "We serve all incomes and ages. We're also available to answer questions."

Davidson said tax preparation will take place at the Alachua County Library District branch libraries and also at the Senior Recreation Center in northwest Gainesville. She said last year, more than 35 tax counselors served the nearly 1,000 taxpayers participating in the AARP Tax-Aide Assistance program.

"Our focus is the Earned Income Credit and the American Opportunity Credit for people in the first four years of college that people forget to claim," Davidson said.

Coulson said tax preparation assistance will be offered in the six counties United Way serves: Alachua, Bradford, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy and Union.

Volunteers for VITA and AARP Tax-Aide Assistance receive tax law and software training. They also receive training on quality site operations and the importance of quality review and taxpayer privacy.

"The VITA program is successful because of our volunteers," Coulson said. "Volunteers help people keep their hard-earned money."

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