How Volunteers Make a Difference During Tax Season
Donald Spano enjoys doing something most of us don’t: taxes. In fact, he likes doing taxes so much he’s devoted 21 years post-retirement to volunteering as an AARP tax preparer.
Now a regional coordinator for AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, Donald manages logistics for a team of about 4,000 volunteers who spend the season helping senior citizens complete their tax forms for free.
“I like working with older adults. They’re nervous about the IRS for some reason or another, and we get to calm them down and get their taxes done,” says Donald, who was recently recognized as a Daily Point of Light Award honoree. “I deal with people who are widowed, and they don’t have a clue what’s going on. I walk them through the steps.”
Annually, Tax-Aide serves 2.6 million taxpayers with the help of more than 35,000 volunteers nationwide. AARP provides all necessary training, so volunteers do not need experience—just a desire to help.
Preparing taxes is a detail-intensive job, but Donald says it’s worth it to see his clients’ happiness. Many return annually, and, as long as the customers keep coming, he’ll be there to meet them.
The Impact of Skills-Based Volunteering
Donald’s story is a great reminder that people can volunteer their time and talent to benefit the community in a high-impact way. Whether it’s creating marketing solutions or sharing financial expertise, skills-based volunteering makes a deep and lasting contribution to the communities you serve. This is especially true because cash-strapped nonprofits rarely have the ability to afford the kind of expertise that skilled or pro bono volunteers can provide for free.
Many large companies, like Deloitte, current chair for the Points of Light Corporate Service Council, encourage employees to take part in pro bono and skills-based volunteering – and tax season is a great opportunity for that. Now in its ninth year, Deloitte’s Community Tax Assistance Day leverages employees’ specialized skill-set to make a real difference in the community where they live and work.
Here are a few other ways volunteers are helping communities thrive during tax season, and beyond:
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, programs are offered by many companies in the financial services industry during tax season. IRS-certified volunteers provide free tax preparation services to low-to-moderate individuals and families.
- Financial Opportunity Corps promotes financial stability among low-to-moderate income individuals and families through one-on-one financial coaching. The program is a partnership between Points of Light, Bank of America and the Corporation for National and Community Service. At some program sites, like the Accounting Aid Society in Detroit, and the Baltimore Cash Campaign, FOC members serve dual roles as both financial coaches and VITA volunteers.