Monday, April 13, 2009

VITA/TCE Update - End of Job

Back in February, I proudly announced that I was VITA/TCE certified. This program (certified by the IRS) allows volunteers to help low income and/or elderly prepare their taxes. Locally, it's administered and coordinated by the United Way.

Since I've only been doing this on Friday & Saturday, this was my last week. After 23 sessions of about 4 hours each, I have prepared taxes for around 100 people. I also did state taxes for these people and in one case, NC state taxes. I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the process and hope that I can do it again next year.

In all of these tax forms, I found exactly one person that might have been actively trying to skirt the law and exactly one person who actively avoided filing taxes (he "missed" at least two previous years and I think only filed this year at the urging of his girl friend). Two bad apples out of 100 isn't a bad record.

Some of the "customers" I worked with were young (20's or less) and some really wanted to understand the process. For these people I worked a little harder to explain the forms and make some suggestions. Some were older and were happy to have me talk to them as I punched buttons on the computer. Most went out of their way to be nice. One even hugged me. A couple were veterans and I thanked them for their service.

The funniest moment was when the Site Coordinator came in and announced "Sorry I'm late, I just got out of prison." Lots of heads turned as they wondered whether he would do their taxes. (He had been involved that morning with Prison Fellowship Ministries - Neil, you should use this line.)

Hardest moment was when a 3 year old flipped a fire alarm and I had to continue preparing taxes for others who had been waiting 2-3 hours with the siren blasting.

All in all, this was a good experience for me and I'm looking forward to more community service like this.


Chance said...

That's pretty cool. There's a ministry in my city that does free tax returns. It's sad that you almost have to have a college education to do your own taxes. I pity those who own a small business.

Anonymous said...

Very cool, Randy. I'm so glad you found that ministry. It is obviously a good fit for you.

LOL re. the "just got out of prison" line!

Randy said...

Thanks Chance and Neil. I have to tell you, that I never thought of this as a "ministry". I never thought of it as "giving back" or any of those things. I jokingly told one person that I did this because it "kept me off the street at nights."

But the more I thought of it, I decided that this is "doing for the least of these" and helping out my brother. I'm not doing it out of guilt or a "need" to do something, I'm doing it because it's what I want to do.

Ministry - yes. For those not inclined to call it that, that's ok, call it whatever you want. I'll be back at it next year.