Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
AARP Tax Aides Volunteer
Old 12-27-2019, 12:11 PM   #1
Recycles dryer sheets
lem1955's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 223
Send a message via Yahoo to lem1955
AARP Tax Aides Volunteer

I signed up to volunteer as an AARP Tax Aide. I thought it would be simple since I've been doing my own taxes and simpler tax returns for family members for a long time. But it only took one meeting with our district coordinator and a pile of study books to show me I was mistaken. I realized that many seniors and other taxpayers who make use of this service live lives that are vastly different than mine, so even establishing filing status can require a flow chart. I'm looking forward to doing some direct service work in my community. I've served on boards of non-profits since the mid-1980's but that didn't expose me to people less fortunate than me. Is anyone else on this forum serving in a similar capacity? Do you have any pointers, observations or insights to share with me?
__________________
Retired 12/16/2015 at 60.
lem1955 is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 12-27-2019, 12:51 PM   #2
Dryer sheet aficionado
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 25
I signed up this year. It looks like they want you to go to about 40 hours of training. First class is January 3rd. Will see what that reveals. Interested to see what others have seen.
EQMAN is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 01:28 PM   #3
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas: No Country for Old Men
Posts: 48,045
I was a volunteer the first year after retiring and would unfortunately describe it as a disappointing and unpleasant experience. That had nothing to do with the customers/clientele, it was due to the individuals (husband and wife) who were the lead volunteers and trainers. It became clear during the training that they were ex-Gestapo members with little interest in or appreciation for any volunteers other than those who were members of their clique.

I stuck it out throughout tax season but didn't return the following year.
__________________
Numbers is hard

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension
REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 01:35 PM   #4
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
mickeyd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: South Texas~29N/98W Just West of Woman Hollering Creek
Posts: 6,468
I have been invited to join a local (CCRC based) group that prepares taxes via AARP software. After reading the above posts, I don't believe that I am interested any more. Thanks for all of the info.
__________________
Part-Owner of Texas

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. Groucho Marx

In dire need of: faster horses, younger woman, older whiskey, more money.
mickeyd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 01:50 PM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
target2019's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Stuck in the mud somewhere in the NJ swamp
Posts: 7,266
Find a local tax cpa. They always need a hand. Work a deal to your satisfaction.
target2019 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 02:22 PM   #6
gone traveling
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 68
A while back I saw a news article about someone whose identity was stolen at one of those chain tax preparers [I think it was H R Block.]

Edit to add:

H&R Block Manager Arrested for Identity Theft of Tax Clients

https://www.accountingtoday.com/news...of-tax-clients

Former H&R Block manager sentenced to prison

https://www.nevadaappeal.com/news/bu...ced-to-prison/
Alexi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 02:27 PM   #7
Recycles dryer sheets
Lagniappe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 371
My first year as an AARP tax aid was last year. I thought the preparation material was very good. Your experience will depend greatly on your local coordinator - I worked with two and the one who was organized and available was fantastic.

Returning volunteers only have about 16 hours of training. I am doing that next week.
Lagniappe is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 02:34 PM   #8
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Accidental Retiree's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 1,210
Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
I was a volunteer the first year after retiring and would unfortunately describe it as a disappointing and unpleasant experience. That had nothing to do with the customers/clientele, it was due to the individuals (husband and wife) who were the lead volunteers and trainers. It became clear during the training that they were ex-Gestapo members with little interest in or appreciation for any volunteers other than those who were members of their clique.

I stuck it out throughout tax season but didn't return the following year.

I tried twice and was not impressed either time, at either location, with the quality of the trainers or the noisy, inattentive volunteers, so I never came back after the first session at either location.
__________________
Chief Retirement Strategist
The AR Group
Accidental Retiree is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 03:17 PM   #9
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Sarasota
Posts: 235
I’ve been a volunteer tax preparer for AARP for the last 3 years. I find it very rewarding as most of the clientele are low income seniors. Most clients are extremely thankful. Passing the annual certification test is not easy the first time, but it gets easier with experience. I would highly recommend trying it. I’m amazed at how people can survive on very low incomes. Jmho
__________________
Retired in 2015 at 53
"Things are never as good--or as bad--as they seem."
LiveBelowMeans is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 03:52 PM   #10
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 1,351
I recently got an email from the coordinator for my town following my filling out an expression of interest form on the IRS web site. In that email she said that the formal training had already been conducted (in November) but that there are self-study materials available. I've not yet made phone contact with her but hope to soon. I feel like I'm fairly conversant with taxes although I'm not a CPA or anything like that. I'd been hoping to take the week of training.
__________________
friar1610
friar1610 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 04:01 PM   #11
Administrator
Alan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: N. Yorkshire
Posts: 29,315
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiveBelowMeans View Post
I’ve been a volunteer tax preparer for AARP for the last 3 years. I find it very rewarding as most of the clientele are low income seniors. Most clients are extremely thankful. Passing the annual certification test is not easy the first time, but it gets easier with experience. I would highly recommend trying it. I’m amazed at how people can survive on very low incomes. Jmho
This reflects my opinion when I did it. The only client that annoyed me was a retired professor of engineering with a substantial portfolio with lots of cap gains and dividends so time consuming. Every morning we had a long line of deserving low income clients waiting for the library doors to open. He was in our system so a regular who took advantage of a free tax preparation service intended for low income folks.

Even though it was an affluent area I lived in I was amazed at the number of very low income folks that we processed.
__________________
Retired in Jan, 2010 at 55, moved to England in May 2016
Enough private pension and SS income to cover all needs
Alan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 04:04 PM   #12
Moderator
braumeister's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Flyover country
Posts: 18,752
Based on this thread I looked into it at the AARP website, but the nearest place looking for volunteers was over 200 miles away. Strange.
__________________
I thought growing old would take longer.
braumeister is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 04:40 PM   #13
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
gauss's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 3,018
I have been doing it for six years. Unlike Renwahoo, I had excellent site leadership and a positive experience.

If you enjoy doing your own taxes (and perhaps finding all the loopholes that ER's can benefit from) AND you like dealing with the public face-to-face, then I would encourage you to try to the program.

The first year will be the toughest in that you don't know how hard it will be to pass the tests and you don't know how you will react in the hot seat with a tax payer in front of you.

I did a significant amount of study. The AARP slides are quite good to supplement the IRS training material.

I find that it keeps me sharp on the taxes and is a good way to give back to the community. The vast majority of taxpayers that you will see will be very grateful to you.

Hints: 1) study up front, practice with the software all the common types of returns (ie social security, 1099-R (pensions/401ks and IRAs), 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, 1099-B (aka brokerage statements). 2) Study the AARP scope manual -- it defines what type of returns you will be allowed to do and which one will need to be referred to a paid preparer. 3) Obtain the AARP marked up versions of Pub 4012 and Pub 4491. 4) Review the AARP training slides - they will answer many of your questions. 5) Locate the AARP trifold document for determining filing status and dependency / qualification for credits.

There are also many opportunities in the program for roles beyond the tax preparer. Training / Tech / Leadership to name a few areas that are present at every site.

-gauss
gauss is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 05:08 PM   #14
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 76
I did this for one year with a great group of volunteers at a VITA program in my town. The actual tax person in our site was fantastic. The clients were very appreciative. Once tax season starts, it got busy but I knew that going in. All good.

The formal training was not good. A lot of folks that used our services were filing in hopes of getting a tax refund that would make a really big difference in their lives. I am sure that I was "good enough" and helped folks do something they needed to do but probably couldn't by themselves, but I often felt ill-prepared on the tax issues.

My life changed a bit and I couldn't make the time commitment to return during tax season. I am sure that it would have been easier after the first year but I often thought that the clients deserved more than a bunch of well meaning but under trained people like me!
br
bigreader is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 05:17 PM   #15
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
gauss's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 3,018
^^ All returns are checked by at least one other person in order to catch any errors made.

With 2 checks, I believe that the program's accuracy rate is in the mid-90% range or so.

-gauss
gauss is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 05:27 PM   #16
gone traveling
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 3,375
I stay as far away from AARP as I can.
gerntz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 05:28 PM   #17
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
SecondCor521's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Boise
Posts: 5,596
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagniappe View Post
My first year as an AARP tax aid was last year. I thought the preparation material was very good. Your experience will depend greatly on your local coordinator - I worked with two and the one who was organized and available was fantastic.

Returning volunteers only have about 16 hours of training. I am doing that next week.
It may depend on where you live. In my area, new volunteers and returning volunteers are required to do 40 hours of training.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gauss View Post
I have been doing it for six years. Unlike Renwahoo, I had excellent site leadership and a positive experience.

If you enjoy doing your own taxes (and perhaps finding all the loopholes that ER's can benefit from) AND you like dealing with the public face-to-face, then I would encourage you to try to the program.

The first year will be the toughest in that you don't know how hard it will be to pass the tests and you don't know how you will react in the hot seat with a tax payer in front of you.

I did a significant amount of study. The AARP slides are quite good to supplement the IRS training material.

I find that it keeps me sharp on the taxes and is a good way to give back to the community. The vast majority of taxpayers that you will see will be very grateful to you.

Hints: 1) study up front, practice with the software all the common types of returns (ie social security, 1099-R (pensions/401ks and IRAs), 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, 1099-B (aka brokerage statements). 2) Study the AARP scope manual -- it defines what type of returns you will be allowed to do and which one will need to be referred to a paid preparer. 3) Obtain the AARP marked up versions of Pub 4012 and Pub 4491. 4) Review the AARP training slides - they will answer many of your questions. 5) Locate the AARP trifold document for determining filing status and dependency / qualification for credits.

There are also many opportunities in the program for roles beyond the tax preparer. Training / Tech / Leadership to name a few areas that are present at every site.

-gauss
Thanks, @gauss, this was very helpful, especially the hints paragraph.

I'm a first year volunteer preparer. I think I'll be OK, but the training so far has not been great. Mostly the instructor isn't a good teacher. Nice guy, smart about taxes, but just has challenges conveying things.
__________________
"At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe us when we say there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough, and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events, may in fact be the first steps of a journey." Violet Baudelaire.
SecondCor521 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 05:41 PM   #18
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Souschef's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Santa Paula
Posts: 3,355
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiveBelowMeans View Post
Iíve been a volunteer tax preparer for AARP for the last 3 years. I find it very rewarding as most of the clientele are low income seniors. Most clients are extremely thankful. Passing the annual certification test is not easy the first time, but it gets easier with experience. I would highly recommend trying it. Iím amazed at how people can survive on very low incomes. Jmho
+1
I would also recommend it. The first year you have to go through more courses, but after that it is fewer sessions.

I did it for a number of years, and enjoyed it. The gratitude of the people, especially seniors, made me feel good.
What has happened with the new tax law with the increased standard deduction, many fewer people have to even file. I got that info from a neighbor who still volunteers.
__________________
Retired Jan 2009 Have not looked back.
AA 60/35/5 considering SS and pensions a SP annuity
WR 2% with 2SS & 2 Pensions
Souschef is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-27-2019, 05:44 PM   #19
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
frayne's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Chattanooga
Posts: 3,281
After I retired I did tax prep for H&R Block for five years and then worked for VITA as a site co-ordinator for two years. Yes, it was rewarding but became too much like a job and yes, everyone's tax situation is unique. I figure after seven plus years and two grand worth of tax returns not counting amendments and prior year returns, I had enough. Met some fine folks and some not so fine but all in all a very positive experience.
__________________
"The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.Ē Ezra Solomon
frayne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2019, 05:44 AM   #20
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Badger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 2,020
I did my own tax prep for about 40 years and hated all the time spent going through the instructions and calculations. It was not a fun experience for me and would get really frustrated with wasting time on some of the calculations only to find they were inconsequential to my taxes.



About 10 years ago I started going to the local library a mile away to try out the free AARP tax prep. So far they have been great. It's just standard deduction with income from SS, a few small pensions, RMD, dividends and capital gains. Usually have losses that have been carried over. It is pretty simple with the computer programs. I am always well prepared for them with all my paperwork organized. It has been so nice to have someone with more knowledge than I go over the numbers with me and have copies for my files to save. I could get one of the computer programs each year but why would I need that extra (albiet small) expense and spend the time when I get it done for free? Besides I am not as sharp as I used to be and not too proud to accept a little hand holding.



So a big THANK YOU to all of you that volunteer with AARP. You are very generous to offer your time to help so many others.


Cheers!
Badger is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
aarp, taxes, volunteer


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Air Force encourages retired pilots to volunteer for recalls Nords Life after FIRE 4 02-07-2009 06:24 PM
Volunteer Opportunity REWahoo Other topics 3 05-22-2006 07:15 PM
An Out-Of-This-World Volunteer Opportunity REWahoo Other topics 2 01-15-2006 09:15 AM

» Quick Links

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:22 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.