HELP LINE: It’s time to think about volunteering with Tax-Aide

MOST OF US have secret wishes for ourselves (I hesitate to use the word “fantasies,” as those might be edging into some edgy territory for a family newspaper).

Some of the more common ones are fabulous wealth or permanent good health, but they might include “fame” (or, at least, a solid dose of notoriety), a world-class talent or skill or even soar to immortality.

Or winning the Betty Crocker bake-off or magically becoming the person we pretended to be in high school, etc.

You get it. But one of the most common wishes — one that applies to almost all of us, but is almost never said out loud — is to be able to look into the mirror and say to ourselves, “I really am a genuinely decent human being.”

And know that it’s true.

Here’s your opportunity.

You could become an IRS-certified AARP Tax-Aide volunteer.

Wait a minute! Yes, you could!

No, you don’t have to be a member of AARP or a retired CPA.

What you do have to be is a reasonably intelligent person who is reasonably good with numbers and people, and willing to work hard at something you won’t get paid for.

Here’s what you’ll be in for: new volunteer orientation classes in Sequim, usually held in the first week of December.

Then, you can marginalize the holidays while you study your little heart out, immersed in IRS-provided study materials and tax preparation software.

Hey, you’re learning to prepare tax returns, remember? Did you expect this to be easy?

You’ll be mentored through this process by seasoned Tax-Aide volunteers, so don’t panic.

There will be more required classes in Sequim, usually around the first week of January.

Ultimately, you’re going to have to become IRS-certified, which means passing the IRS tests at the advanced level, and signing the IRS Standards of Conduct.

Hey, you’re learning to prepare tax returns, remember? Did you expect this to be easy?

Then, you’ll be expected to work at helping low- to middle-income taxpayers through their electronic filing for at least four hours per week, during tax season, but the fact is most Tax-Aide volunteers do more than that because of what they get back from the folks they help.

If you haven’t completely freaked out yet and gone looking for your high school yearbook, good for you.

Here’s what you do: Go to www.aarp.org/taxaide to complete an online application.

Once you’ve done that, a local Tax-Aide coordinator will be in touch.

If you have burning questions, you could contact a local coordinator directly.

In Port Angeles, that would be Susan Fisher at 360-457-1531 (on voicemail, mention “taxes”) or at [email protected]

In or around Sequim, it’s Mike Schneider at [email protected]

In Forks/West End, it’s Hearst Coen is at [email protected] or 360-452-6541.

You’re in Jefferson County? Excellent! Contact Yvonne Starkey via [email protected] or 360-531-4040.

And when should you do this? Now!

All new volunteers have to be signed up by Thanksgiving in order to get all the materials by the time they’re going to be needed so set aside the Publisher’s Clearinghouse entries and just do it!

Now, seriously, consider this: On April 16, 2020, you could stand in front of your mirror and say to yourself, “I really am a genuinely decent human being.”

Yeah, you are.

So, what are you doing Oct. 4 between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.? Care to meet some of the genuinely decent folks I work with, face-to-face? How about get some free munchies?

OK, all you have to do is show up at our new office at at 609 W. Washington, Suite 16, in Sequim between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. that day for our open house.

You can meet some people, gather up as much good referral information as you care to carry and pretend to be impressed by office chairs and filing cabinets for free!

The worst case scenario is that you can tell your friends you revisited “Suite 16.”

________

Mark Harvey is director of Clallam/Jefferson Senior Information & Assistance, which operates through the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He is also a member of the Community Advocates for Rural Elders partnership. He can be reached at 360-452-3221 (Port Angeles-Sequim), 360-385-2552 (Jefferson County) or 360-374-9496 (West End), or by emailing [email protected].

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