The local Tax-Aide chapter is seeking volunteers to help Highland Lakes residents fill out their income tax returns in the spring.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) is a joint venture between the AARP Foundation and the IRS. The nationwide initiative offers free tax preparation services to middle- and low-income households, senior citizens, disabled persons, and limited English speakers.
Once tax season begins in the spring, local volunteers will operate out of three sites in Burnet, Kingsland, and Marble Falls. Clients will need to schedule appointments. (More information will be available at a later date.)
“We learned during COVID that appointment-only was better for everyone,” said volunteer Gene Broadway. “When it was first-come first-served, people would show up at 8 a.m. and there might be 20 other people there, so the wait times could be quite long.”
Appointment times will vary based on the complexity of the client’s finances.
“The entire process hinges on how complicated your tax return is,” Broadway said. “For a lot of people, particularly on a fixed income, the process only takes 30 to 45 minutes. If you come in with a lot of investment transactions and you’re self-employed, you might be in there for an hour and a half.”
Over the past few years, the local Tax-Aide chapter has served more than 1,000 clients in Burnet County.
The group currently needs two types of volunteers: counselors to fill out the tax returns and client facilitators to welcome taxpayers, organize paperwork, and manage the overall flow of service.
Counselors must have computer skills and basic knowledge of preparing a tax return. They must also receive training and pass a certification test administered yearly by the IRS.
All equipment, including laptops and computers, are provided by the AARP Foundation.