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Make a difference for fellow Alaskans. Help them with their taxes.

  • Author: Diane Nesvick
    | Opinion
  • Updated: November 29, 2018
  • Published November 29, 2018

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Five million dollars. That’s how much money was refunded to Anchorage residents as part of the Free Tax Preparation Anchorage program last year. Not only did that money go back to those who needed it, it also was a much-needed boon to the local economy.

Free tax preparation is particularly important for those working to improve their financial stability. For some, a refund can mean another month of heat, rent or food.

Free Tax Preparation Anchorage helps Alaskans complete their taxes for free. This is made possible by a collaboration by AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, United Way of Anchorage, the IRS and various community organizations.

Last year, 56 individuals volunteered their time to serve as free tax preparers. They filed basic tax returns for more than 4,100 Anchorage residents.

We’d like to invite you to be one of these volunteers. Before you rule it out, becoming a volunteer tax preparer is easier than you think. No prior experience is needed.

The program will provide training for you to help others file their basic federal tax returns correctly and on time, ensuring they receive all eligible tax credits. While it’s nice to receive a tax refund, this service provides support for families and individuals working to become financially stable.

Volunteers only need to have basic computer knowledge, an email address and time to attend training classes. Volunteers will assist people who want to work one-on-one with a tax preparer at one of the various sites across the state during tax season, which runs Feb. 1 – April 15, 2019. Schedules are flexible, and volunteers can choose days and sites that work best for them. Weekday, weekend and evening options are available.

Volunteer tax preparers are needed in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Kenai/Soldotna, Ketchikan, Kodiak, the Mat-Su area and Wrangell. Training for new tax preparers starts in mid-December.

Like the tax preparation program, the training classes are free. Volunteers will learn through a combination of in-person and online, self-study sessions. Participants will finish training as certified tax preparers. It’s a great way to learn a new skill, be more confident in doing your own taxes, connect with fellow Alaskans and enjoy a sense of fulfillment, knowing you’re helping others through the tax-filing experience.

If becoming a tax preparer doesn’t interest you, there are other volunteer roles available, such as coaches, greeters and event helpers.

Visit Free Tax Preparation Anchorage’s website to learn more and sign up.

Volunteering as a tax preparer is an opportunity to see the impact you make on our state’s future and the lives of fellow Alaskans who are working hard to make ends meet. The expressions on their faces when you tell them they’ll receive a refund will be enough to keep you warm through the dark winter months.

Diane Nesvick is the Tax-Aide Partnership/Communications Specialist for Alaska, has been a Tax-Aide volunteer since 2005 and is retired from the Internal Revenue Service.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.

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