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Free tax clinic searching for volunteers as coronavirus prompts changes

Total Action for Progress continues its tax free clinic with major adjustment

Whether it’s people who lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic or someone who didn’t receive his or her stimulus checks and are waiting to file taxes to claim them, free tax services are more important than ever before.

To accomplish this task, a local organization needs your help.

For nearly 20 years, Total Action for Progress (TAP) has used volunteers to prepare people’s taxes for free. Now, because of the pandemic, the organization is putting a call out for more help.

Tax preparer volunteers are trained, but after adding new safety precautions, TAP realized it also need volunteers to perform temperature checks, health screenings and help with traffic flow at the entrance of the tax clinic.

As many volunteers as possible are needed to serve a minimum three-hour shift a day.

You may not be crunching numbers, but organizers said you’re still helping someone save on a service that could cost them more than $200.

“In the community with all the job loss and financial difficulties, being able to help someone save any amount of money is extremely important and you are making a huge difference in the community,” explained Teffany Henderson, assistant director of TAP Financial Services.

Another big change, Henderson said it’s just not possible to prepare taxes for as many people now that the pandemic has slowed down the entire process.

Before, the free tax clinic would help about 1,100 people a year, but that was with face-to-face appointments.

Now, they will have people come to the clinic just to drop off tax paperwork, let those documents sit for a period of time, work through the taxes, then wait for the client to come back to review and sign the taxes before filing them.

While this longer process may seem like a hassle, it was the best way TAP could continue the services.

“This is our 19th tax season, so they’ve come here for a number of years and they trust us so we just want to continue providing the service so that they are able to continue to receive the quality of service that they normally do,” said Henderson.

There will also be a virtual option.

You don’t need to live in Roanoke to use the clinic. For information on whether you qualify for this free tax clinic, click here. The clinic isn’t open yet, but you can call to be put on the waitlist.

Below is a volunteer description, if interested contact Teffany Henderson at Teffany.Henderson@tapintohope.org or call 520-283-4804.

Greeter, Tax Volunteer for VITA Tax Clinic, a program of TAP Financial Services

This opportunity is available Feb. 1 through April 15, Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. (hours will vary). The suggested volunteer shift is three hours.

While volunteering, you’ll assist with managing the customer flow at TAP’s Tax Clinic, the goal of which is to help low-income people access the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as a tool for upward mobility.

Position involves maintaining a healthy and safe flow of tax customers at the tax clinic, conduct initial eligibility screening over the phone and by email,

complete health screening form with tax clinic visitors, ensuring taxpayers are ready for preparation, engage with taxpayers by answering intake and eligibility questions by text, phone and email.

Responsibilities:

  • Follow all rules of the VITA program
  • Greet everyone visiting the site to create a pleasant atmosphere
  • Complete Health Screening forms with all visitors at the tax clinic
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Screen taxpayers for eligibility of services
  • Coordinate the intake process as taxpayers arrive at the tax site; Screen taxpayers to confirm they have the necessary documents to complete tax return;
  • Distribute intake paperwork; Collect intake paperwork;

You may be asked to assist with the following:

  • Schedule taxpayer appointments by phone, text, email and in the office
  • Answer tax appointment phone lines
  • Direct taxpayer to waiting area
  • Make copies of intake paperwork and exit surveys
  • Help to maintain a healthy and safe environment by sanitizing work stations regularly, and wearing protective gear, as needed.

Special Requirements:

Online training is available. You are required to complete and pass an Ethics training prior to tax clinic opening.


About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.