Your AARP ; Florida News
Volunteers needed throughout state
Help With Tax Returns
Every year when tax season rolls around, Edith Roberts, 89, calls the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide
volunteer who does her taxes to find out
where she’ll be volunteering.
The Kendall resident’s taxes normally
aren’t very complicated, but she trusts
Tax-Aide volunteer Chris Tyson, of Coral
Gables, to sort out any minor problems.
Roberts is one of the nearly 232,000
Florida taxpayers who come to Tax-Aide
each year for the free assistance that is
targeted at low- to moderate-income taxpayers. While the focus is on taxpayers 60
or older, the volunteers don’t turn anyone
away because of age.
Roberts has turned to Tax-Aide—and
Tyson—for the past 10 years.
Although not all volunteers develop the
kind of long-term relationship Tyson has
with Roberts, many say the opportunity to
help people is the most rewarding part of
the work. Last year, more than 3,200 volunteers in Florida worked at 305 sites.
Free, volunteer-run service
The service is the largest free, volunteer-run tax assistance program in the country.
Tax-Aide coordinators are always looking
for more volunteers.
“They don’t have to have a college degree.
They don’t have to have an accounting
background,” said William Casement, 70,
of Alpharetta, Ga., the volunteer regional
coordinator for Florida and Georgia. “You
just have to be willing to serve.”
Not all Tax-Aide volunteers are involved
in tax preparation. Casement said he is also
looking for volunteers with computer or
“We’re not just looking for people that do
taxes, and we’re not just looking for CPAs. I
wouldn’t turn anybody away.”
Volunteers who assist with tax preparation
receive five days of training and must pass
the IRS tax-certification exam. Training is
usually in December and early January.
They work at sites such as public libraries
and community centers and prepare taxes
from Feb. 1 through mid-April.
Tax-Aide volunteers don’t speak to the IRS
on behalf of clients, but they are often able
to explain the process clients should use to
resolve a problem.
Spanish speakers needed
Ofelia Clouston, a retired nurse in Miami,
has volunteered in the Tax-Aide program in
Coral Gables since 1994.
“I felt like I could help people, but I didn’t
want to do any more nursing,” she said.
“And I’ve learned a lot. It’s not the same do-
ing your own taxes.”
Clouston, 83, is Cuban American and
fluent in Spanish, a crucial need at many of
the tax preparation sites.
In Miami-Dade, the volunteers strive to
have at least one Spanish-speaking volunteer at every site. The program is looking
for more Spanish-speaking volunteers for
locations all over Florida.
Casement said the work is gratifying
because “when you’re helping someone
and they basically say to you, ‘I don’t know
what I’d do if it weren’t for you,’ there
really is no greater reward. We can save
people anywhere from $200 to upwards of
$400 or $500 that they’d have to pay to a
[professional] tax preparer. That’s an awful
lot of money.”
Tyson, a Tax-Aide volunteer for 25 years,
says she’s seen it all, from folks who come
in with a shoe box of receipts to people
who have never filed a tax return.
For instance, one couple who asked for
her help last year had never filed tax returns, but they were trying to get a loan.
“They were told they had to show tax re-
turns. It turns out they were getting $4,000
back in refunds” for three tax years, Tyson
said. “They were really surprised. They got
that loan that they wanted.”
To volunteer or to find a Tax-Aide site
near you, visit aarp.org/taxaide or call toll-
—By Susannah Nesmith
For other state news, go to
The estimated dollar value of a volunteer hour for
each state, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin
Islands for 2009.
Value of Volunteers
* VALUE IS BASED
ON THE AVERAGE
WAGE OF NON-MANAGEMEN T,
SUCH AS DOCTORS
OR LAW YERS.