Hate doing taxes? Not these guys | March 25, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 25, 2011

Hate doing taxes? Not these guys

Tax-prep volunteers recoup big money for low-income clients and seniors

by Sue Dremann

For most people, doing taxes once each year is more than enough, but Sheldon Kay does as many as 20 returns for other people — for free.

This story contains 839 words.

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Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be e-mailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.


Like this comment
Posted by Lynne
a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm

It is wonderful that knowledgeable people are willing to give of their time to help others with their taxes.

Like this comment
Posted by Stella
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 26, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Wow, great to see this article!! I am one of them who fill out tax forms for low- and moderate-income people and seniors through the United Way of the Bay Area's EarnIt!KeepIt!SaveIt! program. It's a great program, I learned a lot!! :-)

Like this comment
Posted by Belinda
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2011 at 8:05 am

While I think it is great that these folks are offering their services for freem I don't think that companies that offer these services are predatory. I work for one of these companies. We give free estimates of what the person is getting back and what the fees will be. No one is tricked into doing their taxes with us. We use trained people to file these taxes and offer extra security in case of an audit or anything else that may come up.

Like this comment
Posted by Rob
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Thanks for the great article!

We're looking for tax preparation volunteers for winter/spring 2012:

VITA Tax Preparation Volunteer Job Descriptions
JobTrain, Menlo Park

Tax-Aid has been helping low income families prepare their tax returns in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 23 years. As the lead agency for the United Way’s Earn It! Keep It! Save It! Program in San Mateo County, we are partnering with the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. In addition to providing free tax preparation services, we are working with Single Stop USA to connect low-income clients at JobTrain in Menlo Park/East Palo Alto to various benefits (i.e. Food Stamps, health insurance, etc.). Together, our goal is to ensure that community members have access to and receive all the benefits that they are entitled to receive.

We are seeking volunteers of all levels to help us deliver these vital and free services to the community.

There are volunteer opportunities for Greeters, Tax Preparers, E-file Tax Preparers, Translators and Tax Return Reviewers. While some opportunities require knowledge of tax laws and require certification, there are many opportunities for those who are not familiar with the tax laws to volunteer with us.

VITA Volunteer Responsibilities for All Positions

• Commit to at least 3 months of service starting in February 2012.
• Attend all applicable training workshops and site orientation classes. Mandatory all day training is December 3, 10 and January 7.
• Work with individuals in a positive, respectful and empowering manner.

Preferred Skills, Experience, Attitude and Availability

• Bilingual skills desirable (English/Spanish, English/Cantonese or English/Mandarin).
• Strong interpersonal communication skills with people from diverse life circumstances.
• Tax background desirable, but not required for all positions.
• Experience working with low-income communities desirable.
• Enthusiastic and flexible.
• Availability Tuesdays and/or Thursdays afternoon or evening.

Specific Positions

• Greet Taxpayers.
• Make sure they are comfortable while they wait.
• Check that they have the necessary documents so they can be helped.

Tax Preparers
• Must be certified as a VITA Tax Preparer.
• Interview Taxpayer.
• Complete tax forms.
• Prepare the return for filing.

• Must be bilingual or multilingual.
• Must be able to conduct communication between the Taxpayer and VITA Tax Preparer.
• Help to interview Taxpayer when the Taxpayer is not familiar with the language of the Tax
• Desired language skills are English/Spanish, English/Cantonese or English/Mandarin
both verbal and written.
• If Translator is certified as a VITA Tax Preparer, he/she may also help answer tax

Tax Return Reviewers
• Must be certified at VITA advanced certification level.
• Review returns that have already been prepared.
• Tax background a plus.

Volunteer Perks

• Learn tax law and utilize cutting edge tax software.
• Receive ongoing training and support from skilled professionals.
• Become an IRS certified tax preparer.
• Help make a substantial difference in the lives of clients.

How to Apply:

Please email taxaid.jobtrain@gmail.com