AARP Foundation Tax-Aide in Montana seeks new volunteers in a variety of positions
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is the nation's largest volunteer-run tax preparation and assistance service -- and they want you to join them. They are seeking volunteers in Montana for not only tax counseling and leadership positions, but volunteers in greeter and public relations positions are needed also.
Each year from February 1 through April 15, trained and certified AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteers prepare, free of charge, federal, state and local tax returns for low- and middle -income taxpayers, with special attention to those age 60 and older.
Last year alone, Tax-Aide volunteers helped nearly 10,000 Montanans across the state breathe a sigh of relief by helping them complete their tax forms correctly and on time. With the help of 173 volunteers at 29 different sites in communities throughout the state, Tax-Aide put nearly $4 million in federal refunds back in the pockets of Montana families.
“To continue to grow this program, we need more volunteers, people who are willing to learn a new skill and help their fellow Montanans,” said Roy Hughes, AARP Foundation Tax‐Aide State Coordinator in Montana. “You don’t need to be a tax expert to volunteer, nor do you need to be a member of AARP. Mainly you need to be willing to help other Montanans with a yearly task no one really likes doing. You need to be a good communicator and somewhat comfortable with computers--knowing how to email and access the internet is plenty. We will help volunteers learn the basics of tax preparation and train you on the software program that we use to file taxes. As a new volunteer, you will be paired with a mentor that you can look to for help and advice.”
Volunteers are needed throughout the state. At tax preparation sites in larger cities, volunteers are busy, for as many hours as they can volunteer. At smaller sites, volunteers may be called upon one day a week. But that one day of volunteering can make the difference between that site staying open, or having to close. Many older Montanans in smaller communities do not have access to the resources they need to file taxes. If they’re forced to travel in the winter to a larger site for assistance, they may be unable to file their taxes on time.
“While we always need volunteers that are interested in preparing taxes, there are other ways that you can get involved,” said Hughes. “Greeters and intake counselors are always needed at the busier sites. These volunteers keep make sure that all the clients are taken care of and may organize the clients’ paperwork. These are great positions if you want to help, but aren’t quite sure that tax preparation is right for you. We also need leaders to organize the sites or technology coordinators to assist with computer issues all over the state.”
Starting in 1968 with just four volunteers at one site preparing 100 tax returns, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide now involves more than 35,000 volunteers and serves 2.6 million taxpayers annually at nearly 6,000 sites nationwide. In fact, it is one of the most effective volunteer programs in America.
“Being a volunteer with AARP Foundation Tax-Aide is a great way to keep your mind active and, at the same time, help other people,” concluded Hughes. “If you ask any of the current 173 volunteers the reason that we keep coming back, it is the smile of relief and words of appreciation we get from helping someone complete a yearly task that almost everyone dreads.”
For more information or to sign up as a volunteer, log onto www.aarp.org/taxaide or send an email to email@example.com.
Q & A with Roy Hughes, AARP Foundation Tax‐Aide State Coordinator in Montana
During a recent question and answer session, Roy Hughes sat down with us and answered the following questions about volunteering with Tax-Aide in Montana:
Who volunteers for AARP Tax-Aide?
People from all walks of life from all around Montana. And there is a role for everyone.
Who would I be helping as a volunteer?
Almost four out of five people who turn to AARP Foundation Tax-Aide are 60 or older. Household incomes aren't high. For many of them, a tax refund could mean they won't have to choose between paying for groceries and keeping the lights on.
Do I need to have experience working with numbers?
AARP Tax-Aide Volunteers interact with clients by filling out tax returns. Even if you don’t have accounting or tax preparation experience, becoming a Tax Volunteer may be right for you. AARP provides training in tax law procedures, preparing tax forms, and using tax preparation software.
What if I like working with people better than working with numbers?
An AARP Tax-Aide Greeter is the first person clients meet when they enter a tax site. Greeters make sure the client has all the necessary paperwork before meeting with a counselor, and they manage the flow of clients being served.
I have a knack for computers and technology – can you make use of my skills?
Absolutely! Technology coordinators manage computer equipment, work to ensure taxpayer data security or provide technical assistance to volunteers at multiple sites on technology issues.
I love getting out the word about things happening in our community – is there a role for me?
Definitely! Communications coordinators promote AARP Tax-Aide to potential clients from February to April and help recruit volunteers in the fall for the following tax season.
I have served in leadership and administrative positions – do you need folks with my abilities?
Yes! At the local and district levels, volunteer leadership administrators manage a team of volunteers, make sure program operations run smoothly, track volunteer assignments and site activities along with ensuring adherence to the program's processes.
When folks decide to become a volunteer with AARP Foundation Tax‐Aide in Montana, their expertise will be appreciated more than they could ever imagine. I am encouraging people to get the joy and satisfaction of helping out by becoming an AARP Foundation Tax‐Aide volunteer today. Find out more or fill out an application on‐line at: www.aarp.org/taxaide.