Is it already the end of the year? That means it’s practically tax season … again!
Tax time can be a frustrating way to ring in the new year, but for many— particularly folks who are new to the US tax system or who have recently had a life change that has impacted their tax situation— it can also be confusing and stressful to know how and where to file. And unfortunately, many tax resources exist behind a paywall, which many cannot afford.
That’s where volunteers with United Way of King County’s Free Tax Prep Campaign come in.
From January through April, United Way will offer free, walk-in tax preparation assistance at 20 locations across King County, as well as virtually through our online tax site. At our tax sites, volunteers file taxes for community members of all ages and backgrounds, helping them to access the refunds and tax credits that they are entitled to, including the new Washington State Working Families Tax Credit launched earlier this year.
But why volunteer with the Free Tax Prep campaign? Many of our volunteers enjoy an opportunity to sit down with someone, one-on-one, and help to get their tax situation sorted. Others like the opportunity to meet new people, make friends with other volunteers, or volunteer in a way that lets them exercise their personal or professional skills in service to their community. And still others admit that they just “like numbers.” It takes all kinds!
Interested in joining us? Here’s how it works.
There are two volunteer roles with the Free Tax Prep Campaign: Intake Volunteers and Volunteer Tax Preparers.
After taking United Way’s in-person tax training, Volunteer Tax Preparers sit with clients and prepare their returns, with help and guidance from their tax site manager and other experienced volunteers. Our volunteer training is offered over five weekends in December and early January.
If you want to help but you don’t feel comfortable preparing a tax return, that’s okay! We’d love to have you join our intake team. Our intake volunteers are crucial to our tax sites, and the role is fun and easy—you greet clients and help them get their documents ready, then place them with a tax preparer. This is the perfect role for someone who enjoys chatting with people.
This year, we invite you to join us for one weekly 3‒5-hour shift between January 8 and April 21. While volunteers are needed at all locations throughout King County, the need for help is greatest in the following neighborhoods: Enumclaw, Federal Way, Kent, Lake City, Rainier Valley, SeaTac, and Tukwila. We encourage you to participate, share your experience, and help grow our campaign. Volunteers truly make the difference.
Contributor Casey Lantz is the Outreach and Relationship Coordinator, Tax Credits and Financial Stability, at United Way of King County.