I wanted to thank this board (and Phil in particular) for the suggestion to volunteer for the IRS as a volunteer income tax advisor (VITA). I just did taxes for 4 folks tonight using e-file. What a rush! I met one Russian lady who was in Chernobyl when it blew. She was explaining her son's health problems which evidently resulted from exposure. It's especially exciting to be on the front lines for what will be a major push for the city of Spokane. The VITA/AARP folks here discovered that Spokane has one of the highest rates in the USA of nonfilers who are forgoing their EIC and child tax credits to the tune of $10 - 20 million per year. For a small, low-income city, that's enough to make a difference to the whole community. The mayor will be making a big public relations push to get these folks to file and get their money and spend it here in town. Anyway, I'm enjoying the experience, humbled by my lack of knowledge of taxes for the low-income filers, and meeting some very sharp fellow volunteers. Sincerely,Kathy
Glad to hear you're having a great experience. I start helping next week as a first timer and have been wondering if I'm insane or a saint!!! - MA
I just did taxes for 4 folks tonight using e-file. What a rush!That's wonderful. Congratulations. The information about Spokane was really interesting. I've decided that my soapbox this year is going to be "Smaller refund, bigger paycheck." I did a return the other night that had a $6,000 refund. Harrangued him until he let me walk him through a new W-4 on the spot.Phil Marti
Glad to hear that you all are having good VITA experiences.Wish I could say the same. Last August I called and spoke with the local (Baltimore) VITA coordinator. Told him I was retired with lots of time on my hands, kind of enjoyed digging into tax stuff, and was very interested in getting training to be a VITA volunteer. I said I'd particularly like to work with older people. He said someone would be in touch, but it never happened. Called back several times in the fall, but was never able to find anyone who would follow through. All in all, a disappointing encounter - and my wife is once again on my case about doing something useful...Lorenzo2
I, too, was inspired by Phil to sign up for VITA this year. I completed the training and passed my test, and now I'm waiting to be assigned to a site... hmmm, I'd better call the coordinator today, now that I think about it.I'm excited, though also a little nervous. I made a couple of mistakes on the test, and even if the program will use people who scored as low as 70%, I still want to get everything 100% right for the people I work with.I wasn't totally thrilled with my training. It worried me a bit that the instructors (two EAs) were just plain wrong in a couple of areas relevant to lower-income folks. They didn't know that people could qualify for the 8% capital gains rate this year, and they gave some wrong guidance about EIC qualifying children. And the state training was just plain terrible. But the unit on dependents and filing status was good, and the IRS employee who checked in on us was very helpful and knowledgeable.The training materials, on the other hand, were very good, and by reading along during class, I could usually catch the instrucors mistakes. Of course, the VITA materials are necessarily limited to topics that are considered "in scope" for the VITA program, but I also got my very own copy of Pub 17 to paw through for the rest of the tax season :-)- Parkway
Me too.Today was my first day. I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy. I saw quite a variety of people and appreciated being able to help them.Thanks Phil for letting us know about this.
This is my fourth year as a VITA volunteer in Olympic Peninsula area in one of the poorest counties in Washington state. Yes it does give one a good feeling to provide a needed service for the poor and elderly. The only downside is realizing the convoluted tax laws and forms which the poor or elderly cannot possibly fathom. We are doing e-filing this year which helps.I believe that each member of Congress should be made to do their own taxes without assistance. Maybe then we might get a simpler and more reasonable tax system.The other downside is encountering the financial scams perpretrated on the elderly (especially widows) by supposedly financial advisors and established brokers. I have been tempted to throttle a few of them.
I believe that each member of Congress should be made to do their own taxes without assistance. Maybe then we might get a simpler and more reasonable tax system.Spoken like a true American. When I did my first income tax with TurboTax last year after coming to this country from Ukraine, I was AMAZED at how easy and idiot-proof the process was. Then and later, as I read about tax laws, I could not help noticing how logical and fare everything is.(Disclaimer: I definitely do not have advanced understanding of taxes, however, doing them on my own puts me at least an an average level, I think).Try living in a country where they pass a new tax law (RAISING taxes, of course, nobody hopes for the opposite), backdate it to the beginning of the year, and FINE everybody for underpaying during those past months. Add horrible double-taxation in many instances, ridiculous forms written in Greek, total lack of logic even in basic things, corruption and just plain high tax rates, and you might get closer to actually appreciating US tax laws.