Observations of a Volunteer Tax Preparer


From the end of January through mid-April of 2013, I volunteered with the United Way tax program providing free federal income tax preparation. Meeting with low to moderate income taxpayers, and preparing and reviewing hundreds of tax returns over the course of the tax season was a rewarding way to volunteer in my community and provided many insights into the current federal tax code.

The Tax Code Is Needlessly Complicated for People With Low to Moderate Incomes Over two full days in December 2012 at South Seattle Community College, I achieved an “intermediate” level of tax preparation knowledge, taking a test and getting my IRS certification to be a volunteer tax preparer. Because Congress had not yet finalized tax provisions for 2012 at the time of our training, the materials were based on the tax code as it existed in 2011. On top of the tax complexities were language issues for many volunteers for whom English was not their first language.

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