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IRS seeking bilingual volunteers for VITA, TCE programs

Everyone who helps fellow taxpayers, regardless of language, makes a real-life difference. So here's also a look at some of those who do that as VITA and TCE volunteers.

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Back in October, the Internal Revenue Service announced it had awarded $41 million in grants to 348 programs that help U.S. taxpayers complete their annual federal tax returns. These groups sponsor Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs, where low-to-moderate income and elderly filers can get free tax prep help and e-filing.

Even before the sites were announced, the IRS had put out word that it was looking for VITA and TCE volunteers to staff these nationwide sites in the coming 2023 tax filing season. These tax angels — and trust me, that's what these volunteers seem like to folks struggling to file returns — undergo and pass IRS training that meets or exceeds the agency's standards.

Among those who are particularly grateful for VITA and TCE help each year are taxpayers whose native language is not English. That's why now the IRS is asking for bilingual individuals to join the volunteer tax preparation ranks.

Volunteers' long tax-help legacy: For more than 50 years, VITA and TCE volunteers nationwide have been helping their neighbors meet their annual tax responsibilities. Last year, more than 58,000 volunteers helped prepare more than 2.2 million federal income tax returns.

Many of those who sought help were more frustrated and confused than the majority of taxpayers. That's because they didn't grow up speaking English.

Yes, the IRS has made major strides in issuing tax information in various languages. But at filing time, if they can't afford to find or pay a tax preparer who speaks their language, they generally have to struggle through the language barrier.

Many VITA and TCE sites, however, are equipped to help individuals for whom English is a second language. And the IRS wants to make sure that continues in 2023.

So if you speak another language, the IRS urges you to be a tax volunteer. You can get more info on the process in my earlier post on VITA and TCE volunteer options. You also should check out the IRS' recent call for bilingual assistors, as well as the agency's tax volunteers overview page.

Real-life tax assistance tales…and thanks: This being the usual Saturday Shout Out day, my first holler goes to the IRS and the VITA and TCE programs. They deserve all the kudos and thanks possible.

To underscore that, I've chosen four additional Saturday Shout Outs. They are stories of the real-life good tax volunteerism does.

First, there's the AARP Foundation's feature on Dave Martz, the Former Accountant [who] Shares His "God-Given Talent" as a Tax-Aide volunteer.

Next, the Davis (California) Enterprise notes Travis Credit Union honors volunteers, including those who help with the area's VITA program.

Then there's the State University of New York (SUNY) Fredonia double major in Public Accountancy and Finance who earned student of the month honors "for strong academics and numerous contributions, highlighted by [his] work as a tax preparer for the area's low-income families as a member of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program." Yay young tax volunteer!

Last but far from least, there's Bham Now's look at how Birmingham, Alabama's Tax volunteers make a huge impact on local families in the community—here's how you can help.

These folks are just a few of the thousands who give their time, knowledge, patience, and guidance every year to taxpayers who need help filing their returns. We — the IRS, our tax system, and your fellow taxpayers — literally couldn't make this vital part of our country's operation succeed without you.

Thank you.

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