The AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program is preparing for the start of tax season with training sessions this month for those who make the program possible: its volunteers.
The Tax-Aide program offers free income tax return preparation and electronic filing to seniors and low-to-moderate income taxpayers.
Last year, volunteers at Tax-Aide locations across Onslow and Carteret counties as well as Havelock prepared more than 2,000 returns.
Program organizers hope to do as many this year and rely on the dedication of the volunteers who take on the training to become IRS-certified to prepare returns or help with other tasks at the sites that do not require knowledge of the tax law.
Approximately a dozen volunteers completed about 450 returns at the two Jacksonville locations, which will open again this year at Onslow County Senior Services and the Jacksonville Commons Recreation Center.
Local Coordinator Sherry Tutt, who oversees the Jacksonville locations, said they are always in need of volunteers. The more volunteers they have, the more people they can help.
“We’re limited in the number of clients we can help by the number of volunteers we have,” Tutt said.
District Coordinator Traci Torrie, who oversees six sites that operate in Beaufort, Cape Carteret, Havelock, Morehead City, Newport and Swansboro, said the 35 volunteers at those sites completed over 1,300 returns last season.
She said they continue to need volunteers.
“Unfortunately, this year we had several volunteers retire from the program after serving 5 to 20 years with us so that has cut our volunteer ranks a bit. We do have some new volunteers, but can always use more,” Torrie said.
A mandatory Policy and Procedure Administration training class will be held this week for volunteers for the upcoming season. The class will be held 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 9 in room 220 at the Wayne West Building at Carteret Community College in Morehead City. A duplicate session will be held at the same time and place on Jan. 10.
The training class is for volunteers getting ready to participate in the tax preparation services to begin Feb. 1. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer or wants to learn more about the program, is also invited to attend the class.
Volunteers are asked to commit to at least one five-hour day each week throughout the season. All training and materials are provided free of charge courtesy of a cooperative agreement with the IRS. Upon completion of the training, volunteers become IRS-certified to prepare tax returns through the Tax-Aide program.
There are also volunteer opportunities for tasks such as helping with the intake of clients to ensure they have the information they need to complete returns.
Tutt said she will be having a separate training session Jan. 17 and Jan. 18 specifically for returning volunteers for the Jacksonville locations.
Tutt said training for new volunteers can take some time. While those interested in becoming a volunteer may not have time to become certified for this season, Tutt encourages them to contact them at any time.
“If you want to get your name on the roster or want to visit a site or just want to have a conversation about the program, we’d love to hear from you,” Tutt said.
For more information about volunteering or about the program, contact Traci Torrie at 910-326-6239 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or contact local coordinator Sherry Tutt at 910-238-4192 or email@example.com