The Hudson Valley CA$H Coalition, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, and United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region once again are partnering to provide free tax preparation for low-to-moderate income families, individuals, and seniors for the 2015 Tax Season. To do so, volunteer tax preparers are needed and a free training will be offered this fall.
Volunteer tax preparers do not have to be professional accountants, CPAs, retirees or AARP members according to Linda Eddy, co-chair of Hudson Valley CA$H. In fact, she said: “The only requirement is that the volunteer enjoys doing taxes and meeting people, these qualities will make the best volunteer tax preparer. The training will be a benefit to them, but it is also the support and camaraderie from fellow volunteers that makes this experience so valuable.” She added, “A special appeal is made to volunteers who are bi-lingual and are able to assist Spanish speaking tax filers.”
The volunteers will go through a tax preparation training program this fall, provided by AARP Tax-Aide in conjunction with the IRS, provided free of charge. “When I first started, AARP only had a day of training, but now there’s a great extensive educational program. There are exercises and practices as you go along, because everyone isn’t going to know everything in the first year,” said Kathy Sztumerski, a 25 year veteran of the program.
IRS certification is just one of the many benefits volunteers will receive. They have a chance to really get involved in the community and make a big difference in peoples’ lives. “It’s great for someone to learn to do something new and useful, but the people who come back year after year are so appreciative and you form a bond with them. That’s very rewarding,” Sztumerski explained. “I’ve gotten to know people for 20 years. They always return, looking for me.”
“Last year, 7,122 tax returns were filed in Dutchess and Orange Counties, resulting in $5,738,546 in tax refunds being generated for Hudson Valley residents during the 2014 tax season,” stated United Way President & CEO Jeannie Montano. “The numbers represent a six percent increase from last year’s program. This program helps return money to people who need it.”
The monetary increase isn’t the only improvement the volunteer tax preparation program has witnessed. “Hudson Valley CA$H has done a great job building it up over the years,” Sztumerski said. “They started out with just a few sites, but now there are 30 locations between the two counties and there are evening hours so families can go later after work.”
Volunteers will be able to make their own schedules and can work daytime, evening, or weekend hours at one of the 30 locations of their choice.
Training begins this fall, and Sztumerski is sure it will be worthwhile for the newcomers as well as the returning volunteers. “Every year I learn something new. There are so many new innovations that the opportunities to learn are endless.”
In addition to volunteer tax counselors, Hudson Valley CA$H has positions for client facilitators, a technology coordinator, communications and marketing representatives, and appointment confirmation specialists. Further information is available on the website, http://uwdor.org/hv-cash/.
Hudson Valley CA$H co-chair David Weaving noted that: “The aspect of this free tax preparation program that inspires me the most is the dedication of our volunteer team, and the fact that they get so much satisfaction out of helping others. It is our volunteer team, and the donation of space by 35 organizations throughout the region, that allows us to deliver this service.”
Persons from Dutchess County interested in volunteering for the Hudson Valley CA$H Coalition and AARP Tax-Aide this upcoming tax season should call or email Linda Eddy at 845-475-7500 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In Orange County, interested volunteers should contact Dave Weaving at 845-849-1649 or email@example.com.
AARP Tax-Aide, the nation’s largest free volunteer-run tax assistance preparation service is leading the Hudson Valley CA$H Coalition’s localized service. United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region helps support Hudson Valley CA$H through a Community Foundation grant.
For information on the Hudson Valley CA$H Coalition, go to www.uwdor.org/hv-cash.