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You can help others with taxes, even if you’re not a tax pro yourself

Hancock County’s Tax-Aide volunteer group is seeking more volunteers to help with the upcoming tax season.
Hancock County’s Tax-Aide volunteer group is seeking more volunteers to help with the upcoming tax season. AP

Tax-Aide’s volunteers in Hancock County are looking for more volunteers to help provide free tax assistance to low-income taxpayers.

If the prospect sounds daunting, don’t let that scare you off, said Judy Reeves, a Tax-Aide volunteer. Tax-Aide is a joint AARP/IRS volunteer tax preparation organization.

“Usually we have about 10 people, and we’re down to more like four now,” she said. “We haven’t been getting many new folks. I don’t know if people want to put in the time. People (potential volunteers) worry that it’ll be all on them, but it’s not. We have a very good process. It’s more like teamwork. Someone always goes behind you and reviews your work.”

With fewer volunteers, the Hancock Tax-Aide group has had to turn away people from some sites, Reeves said.

Tax-Aide volunteers are active from early February to April 15, and every volunteer gets training beforehand, she said.

“There’s a credential test, too, but it’s all open book with unlimited time,” Reeves said. “Training is individual. Some people are fairly comfortable with computers and programs, but everyone has to learn the process. So it depends on the individual person.”

There is no required number of volunteer hours, she said, but volunteers are asked to contribute at least one day per week during tax season. “Our ‘days’ are when our services are open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at most locations, so it’s more like a half day, mostly,” she said.

A background in business, math or tax preparation is not necessary, Reeves said.

“The main skill is being pretty careful, and being willing to slow down and get it right. We need detail people who can concentrate, and that can be a skill with any background,” she said. “Remember, we still have other people reviewing your work.”

There are three sites for Tax-Aide staffed by Hancock volunteers during tax season: the Waveland and Kiln public libraries, and the Senior Center of South Pearl River County in Picayune.

For more information about being a Hancock volunteer for Tax-Aide, contact Reeves at 228-342-6811. Those in other areas who are considering becoming a Tax-Aide volunteer can go to arp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide/

Tammy Smith: 228-896-2130, @Simmiefran1

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