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How to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

Becoming a volunteer income tax preparer can be a valuable and rewarding experience.
Becoming a volunteer income tax preparer can be a valuable and rewarding experience.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America

Most people dread doing their taxes -- it's right up there with getting a root canal. However, for those with a bit of a financial background, preparing income tax returns can be an interesting challenge, like a puzzle, to keep the mind fresh and active.

If you don't see what all the dreaded fuss of preparing taxes is about, you may be the perfect person to volunteer income tax assistance. Free income tax preparations are provided by the IRS and volunteer organizations for low-income people, the elderly and the military [source: IRS].

Maybe you used to be a paid preparer, but you've retired. Or maybe you have no experience in filing at all -- either way, volunteer income tax assistance programs will teach you how to prepare returns, often catering to your level of expertise, whether that's a simple return or a complex one with deductions and pensions to calculate.

In most cases, however, the training is less intense than what most paid preparers receive, allowing the situations to be less complicated, so don't worry if you don't know all the ins and outs of tax law. Most volunteer programs include access to training materials and workbooks for questions that might arise during the filing process -- not to mention the fact that you're most likely working with others who can help if you become stuck.

Volunteering income tax assistance is a very valuable and much-needed use of your time. You can help low-income families get the most money back that they can, or assist elderly people who might not otherwise be able to file the returns on their own. If you have the interest, these programs have the power to train you.

Read on to learn about the different volunteer income tax assistance programs and how they work.