Hudson Valley CASH Coalition, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide and United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region are now seeking volunteers to work as tax preparers, client facilitators, and various program support roles as they begin planning for the 2014 tax season.
The CASH Coalition's annual free tax preparation service is led by AARP Tax-Aide, the nation’s largest, free, volunteer-run tax assistance and preparation service, and funded in part by United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region. Many additional community partners recruit volunteers, schedule appointments, and coordinate all the logistics of tax preparation sites. Low and middle income workers and seniors in Dutchess and Orange Counties, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet, are eligible for the free services. The average income of clients served in tax year 2013 was $27,658. The CASH Coalition and AARP Tax-Aide work to ensure people receive all the tax credits and refunds for which they are eligible, especially earned income tax credits (EITC).
Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds are welcome. You don’t need to be an AARP member or be a retiree to volunteer. Last tax season, a team of 171 volunteers contributed more than 23,000 hours to prepare a total of 6,724 returns for the 2013 tax filing season. These returns resulted in nearly $5.6 million in refunds, tax credits, and Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) that have been projected to have an overall regional economic impact of more than $8.6 million, as residents use their refunds to cover items including rent, groceries, medical expenses, car payments, and other basic living necessities.
Volunteer tax preparers will be trained to assist low to moderate income working families, individuals, and seniors with free tax preparation services at more than 30 locations in Dutchess and Orange Counties. Volunteer tax preparers, who must have prior experience preparing taxes, will receive free comprehensive training by AARP Tax-Aide in conjunction with the IRS at locations in Dutchess and Orange Counties. Training will take place in December and January in advance of this year's tax season. Tax preparation training ends with an IRS and AARP Tax-Aide certification.
Other volunteers also are needed to act as client facilitators for those seeking tax assistance at the tax preparation sites, to help market the program, and to aid with personal computer technology issues. Minimal training will be held in January for these tasks. Work hours are flexible and some work can be done from home.
Volunteer tax preparers will benefit from receiving IRS certification. "Not only do volunteers provide a much-needed service in our communities, they have the chance to learn a new skill and do a good turn for others," said Linda Eddy, CASH Coordinator in Dutchess County.
Volunteer tax preparers and facilitators set their own schedules and can work daytime, evening, or weekend hours in their choice of location(s). They can expect to provide 40 to 50 hours of service during the tax preparation period from February through the week of April 15, 2015.
"Volunteer support is critical to the success of this program each year," said Dave Weaving, long-time United Way volunteer and Hudson Valley CASH Coalition coordinator. "Thanks to the generous donations of time and talent from a dedicated team of volunteers, and the support of the community agencies with whom we partner, we have been able to provide this valuable service free of charge to our friends and neighbors in need," said Weaving. "Last tax season, nearly 6,800 families and individuals received free, reliable tax preparation assistance - and many of them received refunds. Those refunds have a considerable economic ripple effect in our communities as the money is invested back into our local economies".
"United Way is proud to support the CASH Coalition tax preparation program, provided in partnership with AARP Tax-Aide through a grant from our Community Fund” said Dr. Donald Hammond, President and CEO of United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region. “This collaboration is a shining example of how the entire community can come together to provide a much-needed service to neighbors in need. From local, state, and federal government, to our regional not-for-profit organizations, private businesses, and an amazing team of dedicated volunteers, we are all working toward helping residents maintain financial stability. This is an important cornerstone of United Way's mission."
Persons interested in volunteering for the Hudson Valley CASH Coalition this upcoming tax season in Dutchess County call or email Linda Eddy at 845-475-7500 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In Orange County contact Dave Weaving at email@example.com. For information on the CASH Coalition visit www.hv-cash.org or United Way at www.uwdor.org.
CASH, which stands for "Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope" has been helping residents of Dutchess and Orange Counties for 11 years. AARP Tax -Aide has helped low to moderate income individuals for more than 40 years. The CASH Coalition, with AARP Tax-Aide and United Way, includes members from business, community, education, government, religious, social, and service organizations dedicated to helping low and middle income residents and seniors in the Hudson Valley save money and improve their financial stability.
Partners in the Hudson Valley CASH Coalition include AARP Foundation, United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region, Dutchess County Community Action Agency, Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, Hudson Valley Region 211, Fidelis Care, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Taconic Resources for Independence, North East Community Center, Catholic Charities, Pathstone, Literacy Orange, Mount Saint Mary College, and Orange County Office for the Aging.